In several places in Scripture Paul gives us a list of the kinds of sins that characterize the unsaved, along with the admonition not to tolerate these sins in our own lives as professing believers (1 Corinthians 10:7-12; Ephesians 5:3-7; Colossians 3:5-9).
It should be incredibly sobering to us if we are regularly participating in the exact same sins that have brought others under the wrath and judgment of God!
Saved For Good Works
Is your life the same as the unsaved? Paul mentions sins like idolatry, homosexuality, blasphemy, and lying. So here is an important question of personal application: are there any of these sins that you are taking lightly in your life? Are you presuming upon God’s grace by willfully idolizing some form of worldly success, or committing sexual sin, or denying God in public, or habitually deceiving others for your own selfish ends?
Paul is boldly confronting those who would brazenly call themselves by Christ’s name and then willfully live contrary to his Word.
These sins which once were frowned upon in everyday American society are now often excused, accepted, or even celebrated. But God’s opinion of these actions has not changed; and neither will his judgment of them. Paul is not trying to crush some discouraged believer’s assurance of salvation; he is boldly confronting those who would brazenly call themselves by Christ’s name and then willfully live contrary to his Word.
Saved Through Faith
Yet, even as we review Paul’s list of damnable sins, we can not help but find ourselves among those condemned. Because not only is sexual immorality and blasphemy forbidden—so is covetousness, sinful anger, and foolish talking. What Christian hasn’t struggled with these sins, even this week?
Thus we are forced to look more closely at Paul’s solution to our sin problem. The truth is we could clean ourselves up from many of these sins—at least outwardly—and still be unsaved. In fact, there are many non-Christians who try to avoid these things in their own lives, yet still remain under God’s wrath. That is why Paul’s solution to our sin problem is never merely a “Clean up your act” pep talk. Paul unfailingly points us to Christ as the only salvation from our deep, deep sin problem.
What will always be beautiful to God about you is Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul reminds us that the rock from which Moses gave the people water to drink in the desert was merely a picture of the Rock who is Christ (v.4). Christ is the salvation that God has provided for parched people in the desert of this world.
In Ephesians 5:2, Paul begins his admonition with the encouragement to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” No matter how good you try to be, Paul reminds them up front, what will always be beautiful to God about you is Jesus.
The sacrifice of Jesus, in your place, is what makes you acceptable to God. And in Colossians 3:3 Paul begins by stating that “your life is hidden with Christ in God.” You are not saved because you finally overcame sexual sins, or got a grip on your temper, or stopped telling lies. If you are saved, you are saved because your life is hidden with Christ in God!
The ultimate mark of the saved, then, is not just that they don’t do the bad things Paul says are characteristic of unbelievers; it is that they are trusting in Jesus Christ for their salvation. And having trusted in Christ, they are seeking to reflect his perfection in their lives.