The Inspired writer says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21).
He also records, “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them;” (Eph 5:3-7).
In another place he boldly states, “Or 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.” (1 Cor 6:9-10).
He is bold, he is inspired by the Holy Spirit, he is the apostle Paul. He is correct in his statements, no matter what I think. He points out sinful behavior and stands steadfastly opposed to it. Oh to have men with the intestinal fortitude to stand in the gap like Paul. Where are the giants of faith in our day and age? Has multiculturalism and post-modernism silenced Christian heralds or at least made us turn down the volume on the amplifier or to squelch our polemic rhetoric? Do we feel as if we have we spoken until we are out of breath without seeing results of our stalwart assertion so we have given up? Have we concluded that our preaching is pointless?
What’s the point?
Maybe you and I missed the point. Maybe we as Christians became enamored at pointing out the flaws and sins of others. Maybe we are infatuated with fault-finding. Maybe we are more pharisaic than we want to admit. Maybe we are like the church at Ephesus and left our first love. (Revelation 2:2-5).
Should we stand against sin? – Yes!
But not to the degree of forgetting justice, kindness, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:7-8).
That was Paul’s point! Look back to the context of 1 Corinthians 9, Ephesians 5, and Galatians 5. Paul points out sin, but he also makes certain we recognize something more.
The Grace of God!
Gal 5:22-24 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Eph 5:8-10, “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”
1 Cor 6:11, “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.”
Grace is Paul’s point!
. . . those who belong to Christ . . .
. . . at one time you were darkness . . .
. . . such were some of you . . .
Those are powerful words. They are reminders that we are not perfectly sinless. They remind me to approach sinners with compassion that comes from having been where they are. Those words have the fragrance of the “Golden Rule” that states we are to treat others in the way we would like to be treated.
Paul writes these words about sin, righteousness, works of the flesh, fruits of the Spirit, wrath, and grace to Christians in Corinth, Galatia, and Ephesus. His words continue to stand as reminders to Christians today of God’s Grace and the power of the Gospel save and to change lives. When I speak to Christians I need to boldly challenge them to live separate from the world.
However, when I talk with or correspond with people outside of faith, I need to remember to have these three goals.
- Point out sinful behaviors and the dangers that behavior.
- Relay the Truth compassionately.
- Bring them to see the solution that is Christ.
Isn’t that what Paul did? Isn’t that how Jesus compassionately confronted the woman caught in adultery.