Categorized | List Building

Whittling the List

Paul plainly said that, "the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6: 9). Righteousness is the foundation of the kingdom of God. Because God is perfect He can not allow or tolerate any unrighteousness. To do so would be to pollute and destroy His kingdom. And exactly where is the kingdom of God? It is clearly in heaven, but remember that Jesus taught us to pray "Our Father come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).

Paul was not calling the Corinthians to greater effort on their part in order to achieve personal righteousness through a commitment to not sin any more. Rather, Paul was calling them to Jesus Christ because he knew very well that they – we – have no personal righteousness. The only rightness available to them – and to us or to anyone at any time – is the correctness of Jesus Christ. Paul was painfully aware of the sins of the Corinthians. And he was painfully aware that too many of them had hold of the correctness stick by the wrong end. He knew that they had been chasing worldly foolishness and forsaking godly wisdom.

That's the reason that he wrote the letter. He wrote to them in order to help solve some of the very serious church problems that they were having. The church is the leading edge of the kingdom of God on earth, and Paul was trying to help them get it right because he saw that they had it wrong. Paul's letter contains admonishment, instruction and encouragement. Paul was not teaching them how to get to heaven. He was teaching them how to manifest heaven on earth through the proper functioning of the church.

But before we get into the content of this section, look again at who Paul wrote the letter to. Like any letter, if it's not written to you, you will have trouble understanding what it says or benefiting from its instruction. "To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours" (1 Corinthians 1 : 2).

Paul's salutation began very broad and then narrowed down the group of recipients with several additional phrases. He began, "To the church of God" – not to everyone in the world, but only to those who venture the church. This means that he was writing to all of God's saints, and by extension it includes faithful saints of all churches and ages.

Then he began narrowing down the list. This process is both inclusive and exclusive. He was writing to the particular branch of God's church that was in Corinth. But he did not stop there. He was not writing to every member of the Corinthian church, but only "to those sanctified in Christ Jesus." He means to address those who are growing in the Lord, those who are in the process of being sanctified by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, those who are regenerate, born again.

And to make sure that he was speaking to the right people he added, "those who in every place call up the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." To call upon the name of Jesus is to be actively engaged in prayer. Thus, he was addressing those who prayed a lot, who prayed everywhere they went. And finally, just to make sure, he added that he was addressing those who actually believed in the same Lord as he did, "both their Lord and ours." He meant to insure that there was no misunderstanding about who would benefit from his letter – growing, praying, born again Christians who have a right understanding about God and Jesus. Interestingly, those who are not intended recipients find the letter to be of little interest or any real value.

What was Paul trying to say to these Christians? "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: either 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 "(1 Corinthians 6: 9-10). The Greek word translated "unrighteous" literally means unjust. He means to say that the unjustified, those who are not justified by the righteousness of Jesus Christ, are not and can not be part of the kingdom of God.

Paul was not saying that only those who work hard to satisfy the demands of God's righteousness would inherit the kingdom. Paul was not loving for works-righteousness here. Rather, Paul was speaking of being justified. He was speaking about the doctrine of justification, and that one's justification needed to be right, prior to admission into the kingdom. And how are people justified? By the unmitigated grace of God through the propitiation of Jesus Christ. He was not calling the Corinthians to increased godliness that would result in their inheritance of the kingdom. Rather, he was calling them to faith in Jesus Christ, who is alone righteous, and who provides the only means of entry into the kingdom.

Of course, the result of faith in Christ is an increase in personal correcteousness over time, though never perfect nor sufficient. But in Christ the Holy Spirit supplies what we lack.

But it was not Paul who was making the determination that unrighteous, unjustified sinners would not enter the kingdom. Jesus said the same thing. "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. He has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. His voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment "(John 5: 25-29). There is a fork in the road at judgment. The goats and the sheep will be separated.

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