by Mike Ratliff
50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 1 Corinthians 15:50 (NASB)
There are only two religions in the entire world. There is genuine Christianity and then every other form of religiosity including humanism. The latter are all opposed to the truth and are part of the rebellion against the sovereignty of God. Genuine Christianity is made up of those who have been redeemed from the slave market of iniquity. This slave market preys on people and keeps them in bondage to the flesh. On the other hand, Genuine Christianity, which is the Church, the ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia), is spiritual. Those in it are adopted into the family of God. Those alive right now await the completion of their redemption. Those who have already died are with the Lord now. Those who remain are in process. This process is their progressive sanctification, which is the mortification of the deeds of their flesh, which is sin. However, all outside of the ἐκκλησία are in their sins and can only operate in the flesh.
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. This refers to efforts of humans. Salvation comes through God’s work, not Man’s. The best flesh and blood can do is as filthy garments in God’s sight.
6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7 There is no one who calls on Your name,
Who arouses himself to take hold of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us
And have delivered us into the power of our iniquities. Isaiah 64:6-7 (NASB)
There are those in the “visible church” who have always attempted to be culturally relevant in whatever age by discounting the authority of Word of God while elevating fleshly behavior as something God simply overlooks because He is gracious and simply loves everyone. In our time that would include men such as Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Stephen Furtick, Rick Warren, and all those who emulate them. What exactly is their crime? They handle the Word of God as if it has little or no authority. They use it as source material for their sermons and books, but they handle it loosely and make sure that all know that they do not consider it absolute truth. This is deadly because it removes moral issues from the crystal clear, black and white realm and places them into the gray areas of relativism.
The Word of God is very clear that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. That means that unrepentant sinners are not Christians. When a person is regenerated by God then believes through faith by the grace of God, that person also repents. This new Christian is a new creation in Christ. The Christian is not perfect, but does seek to live a repentant lifestyle by the grace of God. On the other hand there are plenty of “Christian’ leaders out there who want to open wide the narrow gate and allow the unrepentant into God’s Kingdom. Let us look at a passage that teaches the opposite.
9 Or 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 effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NASB)
The word ‘unrighteous’ in the Greek is ἄδικος (adikos). In classical Greek, this word is used to describe the wicked. In this context, it describes those who fall short of the righteousness required by God’s Law. It is also used in the New Testament to describe those who have not had Christ’s righteousness imputed to their account. In other words, this is describing the unsaved, those who still in their sins. Not one of them will inherit the Kingdom of God. The word ‘inherit’ in the Greek is κληρονομέω (klēronomeō). This word describes the act of obtaining by inheritance. To inherit something means being part of the family that owns what is obtained. Those who will not inherit it are not part of that family. God has adopted all genuine Christians into His family as Christ’s brethren (Ephesians 1). This verb, κληρονομέω, is in future tense so it refers to punctiliar action rather than linear action. This inheritance will take place in the future once and it is done.
Then Paul says, “Do not be deceived…” The word deceived in the Greek is πλανάω (planaō). This present imperative verb in active voice is a command to avoid ‘going out of the way’ continually. We must always be vigilant to not believe the lie. What lie? The lie is that the unrighteous are going to inherit the Kingdom of God just like the elect. As long as they are religious and sincere then their sins do not matter. What sins? Paul gives us a sampling in vv9-10. He starts with ‘fornicators.’ This is the Greek word πόρνος (pornos). This is where we get our English word pornography. This refers to all who indulge in fornication particularly unmarried persons. The next group mentioned is ‘idolaters.’ This is referring those who worship any false god or follow any false religious system. This is all who are not part of the true Church. These are the ones who have not had Christ’s righteousness imputed to their account.
The next group is adulterers. These married persons indulge in sexual acts outside of marriage. The next group is ‘effeminate.’ This term refers to those who exchange and corrupt normal male-female sexual roles and relations. This would include transvestism, sex changes, and other gender perversions (Genesis 1:27; Deuteronomy 22:5). The ‘homosexuals’ are also called sodomites in the NKJV. Sodomites are so called because the sin of male-male sex dominated the city of Sodom (Genesis 18:20; 19:4,5). This perversion is always condemned in Scripture in all its forms (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26,27; 1 Timothy 1:10).
The next two groups are thieves and the covetous. Both groups are guilty of the same basic sin of greed. The covetous desire what belongs to others. Thieves actually take it. The next group is revilers. These attempt to destroy others with their words. They would include the predators who seek to demolish other people reputations with their deceit, for whatever motive. Christians are not to do that any more than stealing or committing sexual sins like those above. That sure sheds some light into the actions of certain professing Christians who do this very thing to other Christians by defaming them and saying all sorts of untrue evil things about them to the world on the Internet doesn’t it? The last group mentioned is swindlers. The NKJV translates this word as ‘extortioners.’ This would include swindlers and embezzlers. They steal indirectly by taking unfair advantage of others for their own financial gain. Think of identity theft.
Paul tells us that no one who is identified as living an unrepentant lifestyle marked by any of these sins will inherit the Kingdom of God. We do know, though, that many of us who are Christians have many of these things in our past. What about that? The key to this passage for us is v11, which says, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Every genuine Christian is equally an ex-sinner. Christ came to save sinners. Many Christians used to have those patterns of sinful life by falling into those old sins again even after professing faith in Christ. This passage is a reminder to them that if they went all the way back to live as they used to, they were proving that their profession of faith was bogus and they were not going to inherit eternal salvation. This deconversion would prove they were never saved (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Genuine Christians were washed unto a new life in Christ through spiritual cleansing and regeneration (John 3:3-8; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:5). They were sanctified. Sanctification is the act of God of removing a saved person from sin into a progressively more holy life over time. This results in new behavior, which a transformed life always produces. The dominance of sin is broken and replaced by a new pattern of obedience and holiness. This is not perfection. Instead, we must look at it as a new direction unto being conformed unto the image of Christ. They were justified. This is referring to God’s declaration of righteousness to all who believe and receive Christ. This results in a right standing before God because Christ’s righteousness is imputed unto their account. They are now clothed in Christ’s righteousness. This is possible because genuine Christian’s sins were put to Christ’s account. He suffered and died for them (Romans 3:26; 4:22-25; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:8,9; 1 Peter 3:18). The Holy Spirit is the agent of salvation’s transformation (John 3:3-5).
Now, what does this say about those who are working to deceive Christians into validating the acceptability of including unrepentant sinners into the Body of Christ? Paul warns us to be continually alert to this deception. Those proposing this are attempting to call what is evil good. This is a lie and we must not agree to it. We must warn our brethren and try to alert the followers of these people to the error. We cannot use the world’s tactics in this. No, we must pray and tell the truth.
Lastly, there are some scripture twisters out there who take 1 Corinthians 6:11 and attempt to change the word “were” to “are.” I have actually heard two so-called “sermons” by homosexual apologists who attempted to do this. I have had homosexuals demand to me in person that I recognize them as Christians even though they refuse to repent. Why do they refuse? First, they are unregenerate so they can’t, but they are also being given a false Gospel which, of course, does not save. This false Gospel neglects sin as an issue and, therefore, there is no need for repentance. When I come to this passage they say that Paul is actually saying, “Such ARE some of you…!” However, if you try to use that logic in context with the whole passage it doesn’t even make sense. Be ready my brethren to stand firm against the wiles of our enemy.
Soli Deo Gloria!