1 Corinthians 6:9–11 (NKJV)
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Following Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to the disciples over a period of 40 days and manifested Himself to them, convincing them of the reality of the resurrection and enlightening their minds to understand the things that had been written about him in the law and the prophets. This 40 day period has historically been called Eastertide, a time to celebrate the way the resurrection of Jesus has transformed the world. The entire cosmos has been changed, shaken at its very core. And because the world has been changed, we can be changed. Hope has arrived; forgiveness has been achieved; new life has entered into the world; consequently, we can have hope, we can receive forgiveness, and we can experience new life.
So this morning we begin examining the identities we used to have from which God in His power has delivered us as His people. Such were some of you, Paul writes – these works of darkness at one time defined us; but now God has claimed us as His own, He has forgiven us through the sacrifice of His Son, and He has sent His Spirit to empower us to change.
The first group of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God are fornicators. The word is pornos and is sometimes translated the sexually immoral. It is a broad term that refers to those who corrupt and defile God’s good gift of sexuality. Sex enjoyed within the context of a marriage covenant is good, holy, and right; the marriage bed is, Paul informs us in Hebrebs, undefiled. It is pleasing to God and can even be sung about as the Song of Songs reveals.
However, when we seize this good gift outside the marriage bed, we defile it and ourselves. The “fornicator” or “sexually immoral” person sins against his own body, tarnishing the image of God and incurring the wrath of God. The problem in the world is not unprotected sex – as many of our political and cultural pundits would declare – the problem is defiled sex. Any pursuit of sex outside the marriage bed – in pornography, prostitution, casual sex, masturbation, petting, sexual fantasies, etc. – defiles God’s gift of sexuality and incurs His wrath.
The man or woman who pursues sex outside the marriage bed is like a madman who decides that the fireplace is just too confining and so builds a fire in the midst of his house. He wants that orange glow in his bedroom or in the kitchen or in his entry way. But the soot and smoke will most certainly tarnish the house and the flames will most likely catch the whole thing on fire. Beware. Our sexuality is a gift from God; the sexually immoral person defiles it.
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. God has given you a new identity. He has united you with Himself in the waters of baptism. So flee sexual immorality and pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
Reminded that we often defile and distort the good gifts that God our Creator has given us, let us seek His forgiveness this morning and pray that by His transforming grace He would empower us to live new lives that honor and glorify Him. And as you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sins to the Lord.