Though the world often does not like to hear words of condemnation and disapproval, God’s word makes it clear that there are certain activities that God will not forever tolerate.
Consider, for example, the following words of Scripture.
“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, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 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.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; NKJV)
This powerful passage speaks to two important ideas.
The first is that which has already been stated: God cannot abide sin. There is no place in God’s Kingdom for the wicked. Elsewhere, God says of His holy city, “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Revelation 21:27), and Jesus warned that unless one possessed sufficient righteousness, there would be no place for them in His Kingdom. (eg. Matthew 5:20). Men should take this warning very seriously. Sin condemns and shuts us out from the eternal presence of God.
Thankfully, for us, the passage from 1 Corinthians points to a second great truth: in Christ, there is the possibility of change. As the apostle writes to the Corinthians Christians, he makes it clear that their once sinful behavior is now a thing of the past. “Such were some of you, he says, using the past tense. Some of them might have once been fornicators, or adulterers, or homosexuals, or extortioners; but things had changed. They had changed. That was not who they were anymore.
It is a blessed thought that though sin condemns, God allows us to change. Some think that a man must remain always as he is. When they falter, they excuse themselves by saying that this is just they way they are, as if they have no choice in the matter. But God has given us the ability to choose what we want to be. The drunk does not have to remain a drunk. The fornicator and adulterer can change their behavior. The homosexual can choose to cease from their sin. The extortioner, the thief and the crook can all change their stripes and practice something different.
More than just allowing us the opportunity to change, the Gospel speaks to the truth that God wants us to change. He expects sinful men to change their ways. He commands all men to repent. (cf. Acts 17:30) The sin in your life, those behaviors God disapprove of, needs to be gone, eliminated from your schedule and relegated to a thing of the past.
Fortunately, though change is hard, God empowers us, in Christ, to change. In Christ, God offers us forgiveness from our guilt, guidance for the future, and an accreditation of righteousness. Those who come to Christ in Baptism have their sins washed away and they put on Christ (cf. Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:27). They are set apart from the world (the meaning of sanctified), and are added to the Kingdom of God (cf. Acts 2:41, 47). There, walking according to the commands of the Lord, they have continual cleansing and the ability to grow so that they are like Christ. (cf. 1 John 1:7, 9; Ephesians 4:13).
Sin is hard, but in Christ, change is possible.
If you would find salvation from your sins, and learn how to change to be like God wants you to be, the church of Christ invites you to worship and study with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.