Biblical Sexuality Sunday: 1 Cor. 6:9-11
[Here’s the link to the audio/video.]
On December 8th, the Canadian government passed Bill C-4 by royal assent; with a little bit of bureaucratic shenanigans, it passed with unanimous consent. Bill C-4 effectively criminalizes Christian preaching, teaching, and counseling that upholds Biblical morality for all sexuality. It specifically prohibits “conversion therapy” and defines that therapy as any practice, treatment, or service that seeks to call individuals to embrace the body God created them with and heterosexuality, with a penalty of up to five years in prison. It also condemns historic, biblical teaching as “myths.”
Having gone into effect last week, a number of faithful men have called for the pastors of Canada to preach messages today in defiance of that law, and many American pastors are also joining them to stand in solidarity with them but also to exhort and warn our own American leaders from going down this same path.
The Text: “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” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
Summary of the Text: Here Scripture clearly teaches that the unrighteous cannot inherit the kingdom of God (6:9). And the surprising warning is that Christians can be deceived into thinking that they can live in these patterns of sin and still inherit the kingdom (6:9). In particular, fornication (any sexual immorality outside of marriage), idolatry, adultery (sexual sin against marriage vows), effeminacy (soft men), sodomy (homosexual immorality), theft, covetousness, drunkenness, rage, and extortion (obtaining something through force or threats) are all singled out (6:10). These practices had previously characterized some of the Corinthians (6:11). But they had been changed, and they were not the same anymore because they had been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus, and by His Spirit (6:11).
The Spirit of Despair
Our text says: “do not be deceived” (1 Cor. 6:9). And the clear implication is that it is possible to be deceived. This is a real temptation, and it is a temptation for Christians in the church. This letter was written by Paul to Christians who attended church in the city of Corinth. The Devil is the Father of all lies and deception, and one of the central lies of the Devil is the lie of despair. This is the lie of the Canadian legislation, and it is the lie that has been growing in influence in our culture, even inside the Christian Church. The name “Satan” literally means “he accuses.” In Revelation 12, we are told that the Accuser has been cast down out of heaven, where he used to accuse the brethren night and day (Rev. 12:9-10). While his power has been greatly diminished, his primary occupation is accusing sinners of their sin. And with those accusations comes condemnation: the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
So the central lie is that it is too late, your sins and mistakes are too great, there’s nothing that can be done, and you cannot change. The next lie that comes right on the heels of those lies is that the best you can hope for in this life is to limp and hobble along with your sins and demons clutching at you and weighing you down. Paul was writing Christians who were being tempted to make peace with certain sins, concluding that they could not be completely free in this life. But Paul says that if they are not free of those sins then they cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
In a sense, the Satanic lie is actually so insidious because it settles for a mild despair: this is as good as it gets, limping along, going to church, trying to be good, but still enmeshed in these sins, still giving in to sexual temptation, still losing your temper regularly, still being a manipulative person. But the Bible teaches that you must completely despair. You must come to the end of yourself. The problem with the Satanic despair is that it settles for a mild despair that rests in humanistic solutions. It says: you can get by like this. It’s not so bad. It says this is as good as it gets. It’s only human. We’re all fallen creatures. Not perfect, just forgiven.
But the Bible teaches that settling for this is not the Kingdom of Heaven. Making peace with your sin means that you are not at peace with God. You cannot enter the Kingdom like that. But if you understand these words and you look at your life honestly, it should make you tremble. How can you enter the Kingdom like this? If you’ve never had that sensation, you need to seriously question whether you are a Christian. If you’ve never pondered your sin and seen how desperate a situation it creates before a Holy God, you need to seriously consider the state of your soul.
Identity Politics & Salvation
Ever since Adam, there’s a sick rebellious streak in all the sons and daughters of Adam that wants to be a tragic hero. We want to make terrible choices and then flop and claim we are victims of the universe. “That’s just who I am” is a proud, defiant claim, and we have taken that claim to new institutional heights in our culture by making them fundamental identity markers: transgender, bisexual, queer, lesbian, and in the church, we’ve even tried to carve out identities like same-sex attracted or “gay celibate Christian,” etc. But all of it is a false gospel. The offer of this so-called “gospel” is that if you find your “identity,” you will be at peace with yourself and God and the world, but there is no peace in sin, and the early death and suicide rates of these communities is off the charts.
Many well-meaning and soft-hearted Christians are swept along with this, not wanting to heap up shame or hurt on folks who struggle with these sins and temptations. Or we go soft on those sins because we have our own guilt and shame for “more respectable” struggles. We are not as courageous as we should be about homosexual sin because we have stashes of heterosexual sin in the closets of our heart. And of course it’s possible to go the other too: some so-called Christians really are wickedly harsh with transgender sin and homosexual sin because they have a problem with drunkenness and rage, and they do not know what spirit they are of. They try to cover their rage as righteous indignation, but it’s a fleshly rage and a self-righteous indignation.
While we must always be kind and patient with all men, just as God is kind and patient with us, it is not kind or gracious to go along with lies or delusions, especially the kind that we are told explicitly in Scripture cannot inherit the Kingdom. But this applies to their sins as well as yours. It is not kind or gracious to go along with lies that say that homosexuals can inherit the kingdom apart from repentance, and it is not kind or gracious to go along with the lies that say that the covetous and manipulative can inherit the kingdom apart from repentance. Some people worship their idols by scrolling through porn, and some worship their idols by scrolling through Pinterest. Do not be deceived: the unrighteous cannot inherit the Kingdom.
The truth is that all the descendants of Adam do need a new identity – the world is right about that, but the only identity that will save is found in Christ, and Christ alone. In Christ, every sin and sinful identity is washed away, and we are set apart as holy to God by the Holy Spirit and fully vindicated by the name of Jesus (1 Cor. 6:11).
Notice that: justified by the name of Jesus. What is your name? Your name is your identity. What is your identity? There is no other name under heaven by which you may be saved. Only Jesus. What is your name? What is your identity? Jesus was the faithful one, the perfect one, the obedient one. He is the only One who inherits the kingdom by right. He deserves to be there. Everyone else inherits the Kingdom by grace through His name. And Jesus promises to give everyone of us who trust in His name a new name of their own: “To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it” (Rev. 2:17).
Conversion to Christ
So we preach conversion to Christ and conversion in Christ. This is not a “therapy” at all, but it is the supernatural power to change, to repent, to turn from sin and walk in the light. We proclaim liberty to the captives. We proclaim forgiveness of all sins in the blood of Jesus. And we defy and condemn every teaching, every legislation, every executive order, or court decision that says otherwise.
Fundamentally, to deny the power of Christ to change sinners, to set them free from the bondage of their sin, is to deny the resurrection of Jesus from the dead: “… what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead…” (Eph. 1:19-20). What is this great power to change that we proclaim in Christ? It is the power of resurrection from the dead. That’s the central claim they are calling a “myth.”
Elsewhere, it says that if Christ is not risen, then we are still in our sins (1 Cor. 15:17). We can make the inverse point as well: if we are still in our sins, and if our sins are impossible to remove, then Christ is not risen from the dead. This is what the Canadian government, Revoicers, and all the rainbow churches are fundamentally denying: the resurrection of Jesus. But Christ is risen, and we are free. Christ is risen, and all things are being made new.
And the particular newness that we are being made into is the newness of what we were made to be: new men and new women, new fathers and new mothers, new marriages, new families, new communities, new nations. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).