And such were some of you- Teachings from Ancient Corinth
The word “but” is short yet so powerful. The word “but” signifies a shift, a turn, and pivot to a contrasting statement; it is used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been mentioned. Let us keep all that in mind when we read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
“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.”
Our justification and sanctification is in direct contrast to our past sinful nature.
Let’s talk a little bit about the context of this passage. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is writing to the church at Corinth which is made up of two distinct groups: the Christians who were once Jews, and the Gentiles who were once serving the idols of the Greek culture.
Dean and I had the privilege of visiting ancient Corinth earlier this year (pre-COVID-19);
as we sat in the ruins of a structure that once served as a place of worship for our brothers and sisters, we could not help but notice that we were surrounded by temples dedicated to false gods. The culture was wrapped up in serving these false Greek gods. By worshiping them, these Christians were once partakers in all types of sins. BUT through the belief in Christ and obedience to the gospel they no longer had to live with the burden of the sins they once committed.
What a God we serve! When we choose to obey and walk away from our past life, we become washed, sanctified, and justified! (Romans 5:1) The passage in 1 Corinthians teaches me 2 key things: people can have a sinful past and a hopeful future. I also see that the blood of Jesus is very powerful.
Many people have a sinful past but a hopeful future (Romans 3:23-24).
This means that there is no room for judgment of anyone's past (Matthew 7:1-3). This is not a pass for Christians to continue in sin with no accountability (Romans 6:1-4), but it does mean that your past neither defines you nor gives anyone a pass to judge you.
If we are not careful, we can easily slip into the mindset that something we did made us to be deserving of the grace God has shown us. No matter how “clean” your past is, no one deserves the wonderful grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10).
When we think of people who once lived in sin and were changed by the blood of Christ an obvious person may come to mind—Paul. However, I would like to talk about someone else. The Philippians jailer who we read about in Acts 16. While in prison, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to the Lord when an earthquake opened the doors and loosened their chains. Upon realizing that the prisoners could escape, the jailer was about to kill himself, but Paul stopped him and let him know that everyone was still there. Long story short, he was taught the gospel and he and his family were baptized.
From this example, we see a man who was responsible for imprisoning the Lord’s people simply for following Christ become a follower of Christ. The word is powerful! But also, our example as Christians is what draws people to the word.
The blood of Jesus is powerful! The bible says in 1 John 1:7
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
The blood of Christ can cleanse us and make us new. It wasn’t until I understood the practices and laws of the Jews that I came to appreciate the blood of Jesus. Under the law the Jews had to make animal sacrifices for the sins of the people every single year (Hebrews 10:2-4). This was a continual process, but what Jesus did was the ultimate sacrifice. He shed his blood for the sins of the world once and for ALL. It was nothing but grace that allowed Jesus to do this for us (Ephesians 1:7).
This is why we as Christians should NEVER take the sacrifice of Jesus for granted. I sometimes think of how I would have handled trying to follow all of the laws of the old covenant, and all I can do is thank God for Jesus! As John said in John 1:29:
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”
The only way to cleanse ourselves of our past sins and for us to have continuous cleansing is by the blood of the Lamb (Ephesians 1:7).
The inspired word of God causes us to check ourselves. Before we get high on ourselves we need to realize that if we are Christians we are only saved because of the sacrifice of Jesus. Once we own that fact, we can walk freely in his promises knowing that we have been washed, sanctified, and justified. If you have not been baptized into the body of Christ, his church, then you cannot enjoy these privileges. God has the ability to wipe your slate clean. Please reach out to us to set up a study and learn more.