The Rescuing Power of the Gospel

 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. 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)

Who will inherit the Kingdom of God? According to Scripture, those who have repented of their sin (Acts 2:38, 2 Timothy 2:25), believed in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31, Mark 1:15), and have been born again to a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). That is the glorious news of the gospel. 

Who will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God? The short answer is those who have not repented and believed in Christ. However, if we are to better understand what citizenship in the Kingdom requires, then we must go deeper. The Bible says, the “unrighteous” will not inherit the Kingdom.  

It is hard think of a more important question than the eternal state of one’s soul. I fear that the vast majority of people today give little thought to their souls and how to be in right relationship with the Creator God. They have been lulled to sleep by hobbies and entertainment that only end up distracting them from what really matters. 

The words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6 should serve as a wake-up call for a sleepy generation and a sleepy church that, in many respects, has lost her way. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God?” 

Paul does not leave us hanging in terms of identifying the “unrighteous.” He gives us a list of nine sins. Those who are characterized by sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, thievery, greed, drinking, reviling, and swindling, WILL NOT inherit the Kingdom of God. Paul is emphatic in this declaration. Hearing these words should have the effect of jarring us and arresting our attention. 

For some time, the church in America has had a low view of sin. “Yes, I struggle with sexual immorality” one might say, “but I am saved by grace, and God loves me just as I am.” This high degree of tolerance for sin plagues the modern church and has greatly hindered our witness. The Bible says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1). 

Ask yourself, does unrighteousness characterize my life? Do one or more of these sins plague me in such a way that I feel powerless to overcome it? If so, don’t slough it off and comfort yourself with a false sense of assurance. Take the Word of God at face value. The unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom! At the same time, let me point you to the hope of the gospel. There is deliverance for any sinner through the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16-17)!

Consider the Corinthian believers Paul was writing to. If you read through 1-2 Corinthians, you will note that this church had plenty of problems, and yet, God was still powerfully at work in their midst. Paul told them, “And such were some of you.” Even though they once were characterized by thievery, greed, adultery, homosexuality, and so on, God miraculously saved and delivered them. He not only saved them from the penalty of sin (hell and death), but saved them from the power of sin, in such a way that these sins no longer characterized them. 

Just to clarify, what I am talking about is not some form of works righteousness. The Bible is clear and consistent that we are saved by grace, and through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). But I also stand on clear Scriptural teaching that if we are in Christ, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and our lives will show forth the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24) and the fruit of repentance. This is not sinless perfection (1 John 1:8-10), but it is a life of holiness unto the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). 

I lament over how many churches and church leaders are not preaching the glorious message of the cross (Colossians 1:28). Rather than upholding the gospel, and the unique power of God to deliver, there are churches today that are bending over backward to affirm the LGBTQ community in their sin. What we sometimes forget (or are ignorant of) is that there are countless homosexuals all over the world who are EX-homosexuals. Just like countless thieves, swindlers, adulterers, idolaters, and so on, they have been delivered by the power of the gospel. They are not wearing big signs on their backs that say “ex-homosexual” but they will happily testify that God has redeemed them from the pit.  

When Paul writes, “such were some of you” he is clearly writing in the past tense. Even though you once were caught up and enslaved to these sins, the power of God was greater. “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.” Amen! 

I am well aware that in saying these things, I will probably be accused of “hate speech.” I am not the first, nor will I be the last – far from it. Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). 

Christians in 2022 would do well to follow the example of Peter and John in the early church. It says in Acts 4:18-20, “So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” They were saying, in effect, we are accountable to a higher power. We will not stop preaching the message that we know and are convinced is true!  

Let me ask, if someone close to you was sick with a terminal illness, and you knew of medicine that could cure that illness, would you keep that to yourself? Of course not! You would share that with them as quickly as possible. You would do everything to get them that medicine in order to save their life. 

In the same way, sin kills. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and those who live lives characterized by sin, will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But there is hope. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus died in our place, to deliver us from both the penalty of sin and the power of sin. Praise God! 

May we be bold and fearless in declaring that there is hope in Jesus Name! 

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