“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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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).
Such were some of you. On one hand, what sweet words these are to believers! The church is not for perfect people but for sin-scarred, once-blind, still struggling people.
Look at this list again! Individuals who once were sexually immoral, idolatrous, adulterers, practicing homosexuality, unrighteous – now make up the membership list of the local church.
We, as current believers, dare not ever forget this! Just because we are now washed does not mean should we go around looking for other “cleaned up” people to share the gospel with.
The gospel is for dirty, no-good, rebellious scoundrels… just like we were before God intervened in our lives by his grace.
Jesus himself said in Matthew 9:13 that he was coming to call–not the righteous–but sinners to repentance.
“Such were some of you” is a plain reminder that John Newton is not an anomaly! God is in the business of exercising amazing grace on people who once were wretches, who once were blind.
On the other hand, those who are truly washed and sanctified and justified by faith are no longer servants to the same sins that plagued them as unbelievers: “such were some of you.”
Will we still struggle and wrestle and be afflicted with our sinful nature? Certainly. But those who are truly brought to Christ in repentance and faith are never the same again. New life inside leads to a new life on the outside.
Have you come to see that Jesus came to sinners, and that describes you? Have you been willfully walking in the sins that Paul lists here? If so, be reminded that “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
But this is the good news of the Christian gospel: we are all unrighteous by nature, but God has provided in Jesus Christ an alien/outside righteousness that allows us to come to God in repentance and faith. So John promises that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
There is no sin that cannot be forgiven and overcome through Jesus Christ.
Some of those in Corinth had been guilty of the very sins that Paul lists here! “Such were some of you.” But to those who have trusted in Jesus Christ for their salvation, Paul now says, “You are (now!) washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” May that be God’s Word to you today.