By Don Fortner
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
After declaring that “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” the inspired apostle writes, “And such were some of you.” If I understand the phrasing of Paul’s words correctly, he is saying, “And such were you.” He is not suggesting that some of the Corinthians were guilty of these sins and others were not. He is saying, “All are guilty. Some were adulterers, some extortioners, some drunkards, etc.; but all have been guilty.” What was true of the Corinthians is also true of us.
This is what we were and where we were when God saved us by his grace (Isa. 51:1; Eph. 2:1-3). We must never forget from whence we came. We must never forget where we were and what we were before the Lord saved us. Not only is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 a description of what we were - This is what we all are by nature still (Matt. 15:19). There is no evil recorded here, or recorded in the annals of human history, the seed of which is not in each of our hearts by nature. Why does the Holy Spirit remind us so often of this painful fact? There are four reasons for this reminder:
1. To humble us and keep us from pride and self-righteousness (1 Cor. 4:7).
2. To honor, exalt, and magnify the grace of God in Christ (1 Cor. 26-30).
3. To encourage sinners to come with all their sin to Christ, trusting him alone for salvation (Isa. 1:18).
4. To inspire in our hearts the intense zeal and ardent love for Christ that our great Savior deserves (Lk. 7:47).
“But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Thank God for intervening grace! Aren’t you thankful the Lord did not leave you to your freewill? (Read Psa. 78:38; Ezek. 16:6-8; Eph. 2:4). What Paul here says about the Corinthian believers is also true of all today who trust Christ as their Savior.
You were polluted with sin, “But ye are washed.” I do not need to tell you that Paul is not talking about being washed in the waters of baptism, he is talking about our sins being washed away by the blood of Christ. This washing is twofold:
1. Our sins were washed away by the blood of Christ, being washed out of the book of God’s law (Heb. 9:26).
2. When the blood was applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, sin was washed out of our consciences (Heb. 9:14).
There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains.
You were defiled with sin, “But ye are sanctified.” This is the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and conversion. Once we were dedicated to sin and the service of sin; but now a marvelous change has taken place. Now, by the grace of God, we are dedicated to God and the service of God.
This sanctification is a bending of our wills to the will of God. It is a turning of our hearts’ affection to Christ. It is the conversion of our hearts and lives to the living God. This conversion is a work of pure grace.Augustine said, “Man is not converted because he wills to be, but he wills to be because he is ordained to be.” It is a work of grace that begins, at least in its experimental aspect, in regeneration and continues all the days of our lives upon the earth.
What is conversion? “Regeneration is a spiritual change. Conversion is a spiritual motion” (S. Charnock). “Conversion is a deep work, a heart work. It goes throughout the entire life” (J. Alliene). Perhaps John Gill said it best – “Conversion is a turn of the mind from carnal things to spiritual ones, and from earthly things to heavenly ones. Yea, it is a turn of the will, which before conversion is stubborn, inflexible, biased to and bent upon that which is evil, and averse to all that is good. But in conversion, God works in men `both to will and do of his good pleasure.’ He gives them another will, or turns their will, so that of an unwilling people, they are made a willing people in the day of his power.”
You were guilty, condemned, and doomed by reason of sin, “But ye are justified.”
1. Justified By God’s Eternal Decree (Rom. 8:29).
2. Justified By Christ’s Finished Work (Rom. 3:24-26).
3. Justified By Faith (Rom. 3:28).
To be justified is to be made righteous in the sight of God’s law. It is to be completely pardoned, fully forgiven, and perfect in God’s sight by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. To be justified is to be “just as if I had never sinned.” Being justified by Christ, I am in every way equal to the demands of God’s holy law.
Paul attributes these three blessed works of saving grace to all three Persons of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We do not wash ourselves. We do not sanctify ourselves. And we do not justify ourselves. “Salvation is of the Lord.”
In the light of these things, we are given a very practical and very reasonable admonition. In verses 19 and 20, the apostle writes, “Ye are not your own. Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God’s.”
Do you see all that God has done for us? Do you see how utterly undeserving we are of his grace? Then surely you see the reasonableness of this admonition (Rom. 12:1-2). Let this be the motivating force and rule of our lives. In all things seek to “glorify God.” “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31)