"CARNALITY'S IGNORANCE" Part 1
First Corinthians 6.9-14
1. Please turn in your Bible to First Corinthians 6.9, and remain seated for a moment or two.
2. Martha Hyatt just knew when she rose from a fitful night's sleep that the day was not going to be one of the best she'd ever had. Then, when she drove to school to teach her first grade class, and noticed that the alternator light on her car was on all the way to school, she was convinced beyond any shadow of doubt.
3. So it was no surprise when Jerome, the young freckle-faced boy who had enrolled in her class the day before, showed up wearing nothing but a bathing suit. Though the entire class just stared in amazement at what Jerome was wearing, Mrs. Hyatt calmly instructed Jerome to go back home and get fully dressed.
4. It was about 9:30, while Mrs. Hyatt was at the blackboard, that she heard the snickers move through the class and turned to see that Jerome was back. This time he was wearing black tie and tails, with patent leather shoes.
5. Letting him stay the rest of the day, Mrs. Hyatt wrote a note for Jerome to take home, asking his parents to see that he was dressed more appropriately, and with more discernment about what was proper for a class room situation. But after school was out and she had a chance to think about little Jerome, teacher Hyatt realized something.
6. Since this little boy dressed, first, at one extreme and then the other, it was quite obvious that he needed some basic guidance and instruction on the proper attire to wear to school. This little boy was either completely without supervision or completely without discernment, . . . or both.
7. Folks, this fictional account of Martha Hyatt and little Jerome runs somewhat parallel to the situation we have been studying in First Corinthians for the past two weeks.
8. In chapter 5, Paul finds that the Corinthians have tolerated fornication in their midst. They were completely wrong. But it didn't seem to faze them at all. So Paul instructed them to do right.
9. Then, in 6.1-8, we find that the Corinthians had stooped to such pettiness that they were taking each other to court to air their grievances before unsaved magistrates. From doing nothing about serious problems, they had now been found doing entirely too much about insignificant problems!
10. It is quite obvious that, like little Jerome who needs basic instruction on the proper clothes to wear to school, the Corinthians needed some basic instruction on the subject of sin and the Christian.
11. Let us now stand for the reading of God's Word. Beginning with verse 9, I read through verse 14: "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, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 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. All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power."
12. This is the first of three messages in which Paul deals with the subject of sin and the Christian in such a way that we learn something very important about the carnal Christian. We learn that the carnal Christian lacks spiritual discernment.
13. Turn to Hebrews 5.11-14. What is a carnal Christian? Basically, a carnal Christian is a believer in Christ who is both unspiritual and immature. Now let's read this passage and see what we can learn about believers who are both unspiritual and immature: "Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."
14. The carnal Christian, who is described in this passage, cannot discern between good and evil. In our text for this evening, First Corinthians 6.9-14, we see two distinctions in the spiritual realm which carnal Christians are simply unable to discern.
15. And you will notice as we proceed that these two distinctions are perfect illustrations of Hebrews 5.11-14.
"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, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
I say "unable to make" because Paul begins his statement, "Know ye not . . . ?"
It is ignorance, on the part of carnal Christians, that hinders being able to distinguish between the damned and the delivered, between the lost and the saved.
1B. I Want You To First Notice The Problem Of The Damned
And what is the problem of the damned? They're damned. Notice two indications of this horrible fate which awaits those who do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior.
1C. First, there is the position of the damned. Paul refers to them as the "unrighteous."
1D. Now, since the Bible declares that "there is none righteous, no not one," some people are confused by Paul's reference to unsaved people as "unrighteous."
2D. But this confusion clears away when you realize that although no one is righteous in and of himself, the distinction between a saved person and a lost person is this:
3D. The lost person stands before God in his own personal unrighteousness. The Christian, however, acknowledging that he is a sinner and trusting Christ as his Savior, stands before God as unrighteous, so far as his own merit is concerned, but is clothed in the imputed righteousness of Christ. Romans 4.5 speaks to this: "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
4D. The "unrighteous" that Paul refers to, then, is that person who has never trusted Christ and must, therefore, stand before God at the judgment day, naked before Him in unrighteousness and sin. What a horrible position to be in before God, Who is a consuming fire.
2C. Then there is the prophesy concerning the damned. Paul says about them, ". . . shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
1D. Whether people want to admit it or not, there is a future that they shall someday meet. And that future can only be one of two possibilities.
2D. The person who has trusted Christ shall inherit the kingdom of God. The person who dies without Christ shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
3D. And though Paul does not specifically mention the fact of it at this point, to not inherit the kingdom of God means an eternity in the lake of fire. No possibility of parole. No possibility of commutation of sentence.
3C. Would you say the damned have a problem? I would. But the carnal Corinthian Christians seemed quite oblivious to the reality of it, judging by the way they behaved around the unsaved. Friends, Christians should always be aware of the destiny of the damned.
2B. Next, I Want You To Notice The Proof Of The Damned
"Be not deceived"
Don't fool yourselves. People whose lives are characterized by the sins listed here are not saved. Can believers commit these sins? Yes, but the life that is described by these sins, the person who is dominated by these sins, is lost. Let's take a look.
1C. Fornicators. This is someone who engages in sex outside the bounds of marriage. 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.
2C. 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. Is not Roman Catholicism an idolatrous religion? Of course it is. Are people 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.
3C. Adulterers. 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 and on the institution of marriage.
4C. 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. 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.
5C. 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. So don't tell me that sexual perversion is condoned by God.
6C. Thieves. These are people who steal. 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?
7C. 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. Colossians 3.1 is where the apostle Paul identifies covetousness as a form of idolatry.
8C. Drunkards. 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 ridiculous spectacle you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere.
9C. 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. Proverbs 25.24, 26.21 and 27.15 give examples of this kind of behavior.
10C. Extortioners. This word refers to taking or seizing, by force, something that is not rightly yours. Plundering soldiers are extortioners, as are playground bullies who take lunch money away from younger children. But then again, so is a boss who unmercifully works an employee without proper compensation, under the threat of firing should he or she protest.
11C. Think about it for a moment. We have seen the problem of the damned, as well as the proof of it . . . their behavior. And is it not amazing that carnal Christians do not really know, or do not really see, the destiny of the lost? They do not really recognize the proof of sin that declares the person who lives this way is lost.
12C. You see, if carnal Christians really comprehended the significance of these sinful practices and how loudly they declare their practitioner to be lost, two things would be different than they presently are:
1D. First, the carnal Christian would not allow such sins as these in his own life. He would recognize what he is saying by doing such things as are mentioned here. He is saying, "I'm lost."
2D. And then, he would not simply allow these people who are his friends, whose lives these sins describe, to slip off into eternity without hearing the Gospel at least one time. Yes, it is so sad that carnal Christians do not discern these truths about lost people.
"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. All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power."
1B. First, Notice The Past Work In The Life Of The Believer (6.11)
"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."
1C. Do you see that first phrase, "And such were some of you?" Folks, Paul is writing to Christians. And he is reminding them of what they have been delivered from.
2C. That means, there is no such thing as a recovering alcoholic in the family of God, but there are believers who used to be drunks. There are no recovering kleptomaniacs, but there are saints who used to be thieves and extortioners. There are no recovering sex addicts, but there are folks who used to be fornicators.
3C. How can this be possible? Through God's divine provision the child of God was washed, sanctified, and justified. Washed in the blood of Christ, sanctified by the operation of the Holy Spirit, justified by God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
4C. And who are the persons involved? Well, God is involved, for it's His kingdom. Jesus Christ is involved, for He is the Savior Who shed His blood. The Holy Spirit is involved, for He is the Author of regeneration. And the person who used to be a fornicator, or an adulterer, or a sodomite, or an idolater, but who is now the brother, is certainly involved.
5C. And this has happened, without exception, to every child of God. It's a past work of God in every believer's life, to deliver him from such sins as these.
2B. Second, Notice Paul's Warning To The Believer
His warning is divided into two parts.
1C. First, there is the principle (6.12)
"All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."
1D. Folks, as a child of God who lives under the rule of grace you can do anything you want to, with only two considerations. That is, there are only two requirements of what you do that must be consistent with the life God has given to you. The legalist, now, will argue against what Paul has just written or will try to explain it away, because the legalist feels comfortable with the rule of Law, and he greatly fears our great liberty in Christ; but we'll ignore him.
2D. First, what you do must be expedient. And not expedient for you, which is the mistake that libertines make. What you do and how you live your life must be expedient for the cause of Christ, it must benefit the cause of Christ.
3D. Then, what you do must not result in you being brought under the power or influence of anything or anyone save God. That rules out drugs, and drink, etc. It even rules out good things taken to excess.
4D. The principle, then, is Do anything you want that does not harm the cause of Christ or enslave you. You see? Paul is much more of a "do this" person than a "don't do that" person.
2C. Then, there is the practice (6.13)
"Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body."
1D. I rather get the impression that the Corinthians were justifying the sin of fornication by saying, "Well, we have hunger appetites that we feed, so why not feed our sexual appetites?"
2D. Now, notice how eating food does not violate Paul's principle, but fornication does. First, eating food is not harmful to the cause of Christ. But no one could argue that fornication is expedient to the cause of Christ. There is nowhere in the world that sex outside of marriage does not damage the effectiveness of the Christian's witness in any way, except in the Charismatic movement, where the grace of God is turned into lasciviousness.
3D. Second, normal eating does not bring you under its power and enslave you. Fornication, however, does. You see, fornication is the illegitimate meeting of a God-given appetite. And attempting to fill a God-given appetite in a sinful way will not satisfy the appetite, but will only increase it. The desire to fornicate will grow and intensify.
4D. Two other quick observations before we continue on:
#1 The parallel between food and fornication the Corinthians tried to make is not a valid one. Why is that? Because eating is a material issue and fornication is a moral issue. Because eating is temporal and fornication influences eternity.
#2 The belly was actually created to receive food, and the food was created to be consumed by the belly. But the body was not created for fornication. Sex within the bounds of marriage? Yes. But sex outside of marriage? No.
5D. Bottom line? The carnal Christians were simply trying to justify their toleration of sin. Adjusting their beliefs to fit their behavior, instead of adjusting their behavior to fit their beliefs. Typical of carnal Christianity.
3B. Past Work, Paul's Warning, And Finally, Promised Work (6.14)
"And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power."
1C. How wonderful it is to know that not only does God initiate this thing called salvation, but He carries it through to conclusion by His Own omnipotent power.
2C. And He'll carry it through in the life of the committed Christian, and the carnal Christian, as well.
1. Allowing a man to sleep with his father's wife without doing anything about it. Christians dragging Christians to court and airing their dirty laundry in front of lost judges. And now, evidence that born again Christians don't even know that committing fornication to satisfy your sexual appetite is not quite the same as eating a hamburger when you are hungry.
2. If you are here this evening and you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior this revelation may strike you as shocking. You may be horrified that Christians, people who are truly converted, think that those around them can actually commit such sins as these and be themselves converted.
3. Although such beliefs and such toleration of wickedness in our midst is wrong, and although it is a disgrace, it does happen that Christians can be pretty dense when it comes to discernment. Let me tell you how these things can happen.
4. That such things as these can happen is a testimony to the fact that people do not go to heaven for what's in their heads so much as what's in their hearts. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness."
5. Obviously, if being a good person was required to get to heaven these Corinthians would be in a terrible fix. But Paul does tell them that God "will also raise up us by his own power." These people are going to heaven, no matter that they couldn't have been more spiritually dense when it came to discerning the spiritual state of others.
6. But how can they go to heaven when they are so bad? Simple. How good or bad you are at discerning another's relationship with God has nothing to do with whether or not you go to heaven.
7. Figure this one out. The Corinthians tolerated wicked fornication by a young man with his step mother, thinking all the while that he was a Christian. But Paul knew without even being there that the young man was lost. The difference in the capacity for discernment between a spiritual and an unspiritual Christian is vast.
8. The Corinthians were heaven-bound, as carnal and spiritually lousy as they were, because their sins had been washed clean by the blood of Christ. They had responded to the Gospel.
9. Now, they should have lived better than they did, for a number of reasons. But the fact is, they were on their way to heaven, despite the fact that they had virtually no spiritual discernment whatsoever.