I’ve been posting about Paul’s view of lawsuits between believers in his first letter to the Corinthians. He sees it as a sign that they’re living in defeat. They’re bringing public shame upon the church.
As he continues, Paul shows them that this is part of a much larger issue. It’s something that we should all be mindful of in our generation.
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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 6:9-11
This is a section of Scripture that self-righteous people use to prove that other church members are going to hell. But what’s Paul really saying here?
First, let’s look at the context. He’s talking about bringing lawsuits against fellow believers. There are two sins in this list that directly apply to this issue. The word, greedy, means to desire more than the share that should be coming to you. The word, swindler, means to plunder or carry off by force, which is the goal of a lawsuit.
For these reasons Paul is telling them that they’re living in defeat. Their flesh is clearly in control of the situation. But have they lost their salvation over this?
I don’t believe that’s the case. One reason is that Paul clearly states that they were greedy swindlers. Now, because they were washed, sanctified, and justified, they’re no longer who they were. They are simply acting in a way that’s inconsistent with their new nature in Christ.
Another reason that I don’t believe they lost their salvation is that Paul is talking about their inheritance. He warns them that if they continue to act outside of God’s will, they could lose the kingdom blessings God has set aside for them.
Peter says the same thing in his letters.
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:9
Peter uses some of the same words as Paul. The word insult is the same word translated as slanderer in 1 Corinthians. The difference is that Peter makes it clear that the inheritance is a blessing, not your salvation.
We have to understand these kingdom truths. The fact that I lose my inheritance does not mean that I’ve lost my place in the family. It only means that I haven’t been living a life that’s consistent with the character of my family.
In Christ, we’ve been set free from our past. We are made new in Him. If I fall to sin, I can’t say, “That’s just who I am. I’m a greedy person.”
I’m not a greedy person anymore. Now I need to clothe myself in Christ – my new nature. Yes, I can still follow the desires of my flesh, but that should be the exception – not the rule. I must submit to the Holy Spirit’s life-changing work in me.
This should be a warning to us. Kingdom blessings are for those who submit to the spiritual processes of the kingdom.
Question: Why are some people so eager to accuse others of losing their salvation?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi