Christians are not perfect. The truth of the matter is Christians are no better than non-Christians, with this difference: we have acknowledged our immoral behaviors; we have realized that we needed forgiveness from God for these wrongs; and now live, subsequent to baptism, a life dedicated to righteous living. We have parted from our arrogance, so that God may lead us in His ways.
Christians are, nevertheless, people too, and sometimes we find ourselves returning to unrighteous habits or seductive immoral comfort zones. Immorality seems to be “justifiable”, we rationalize, under the “present circumstances.” Whether it is a “one-time deal” or a prolonged habit, this is sin plain and simple. Yes, Christians sin (Rom. 3.10-23).
The Path Behind Holds Nothing
“Do not be deceived”, writes the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. Unrighteous living is counter-productive to the Christian hope of heaven, the ultimate embodiment of the “kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6.9). This demand is strong; it may even be translated, “Stop being deceived!”
The deception is that doing wrong can bring about a needed good. In context, Paul is dealing with Christians who have been taking each other to court over being “wronged” and treated “fraudulently” (1 Cor. 6.1-8). It appears that certain Christians had not reformed their business habits, and continued in, or reverted to their old immoral practices.
It is one thing to transact business and provide for self and family, but it is another thing entirely to transact business in a sleazy immoral unethical way to be the breadwinner. As a wise Christian once said, we should always conduct ourselves in such a way that it does not leave a sour taste of the church in the mouths with whom we transact business. Some can be so fincancially shrewd, they are spiritually lewd.
The Christian must stop the alluring methods of sin to guide their current behavior in their quest to obtain their goals. And this is not new teaching; in fact, they had firsthand knowledge (“you know” Grk. oidate) regarding the implications of “unrighteous” living (6.9). For this reason, Paul demands that they press the “brakes” on their behavior.
In the eyes of the Lord, “unrighteousness” does not open doors, it closes them (Psa. 1.8-10). Such living amounts to nothing. For this reason, Paul goes into great detail and lists certain vices which one cannot practice while holding the expectation to “inherit” the eternal blessings of the kingdom of God.
This section makes it abundantly clear, contrary to Calvinistic theology, that a child of God can live in such a way to loose their eternal inheritance. Let us give careful attention to these terms.
The Sexually Immoral
In a time where sexual relationships outside of marriage are common and regarded as normal – even a rite of passage, it will probably shock many to learn that this behavior is regarded by God as unjust, sinful, and evil living (1 Cor. 6.9). God has provided the guidelines, however, for this passion – in marriage (Gen. 2.23-24; 1 Cor. 7.1-5; Heb. 13.4). “Sexual immorality” is not an option for the Christian (Gk. porneia; 1 Cor. 5.11).
Marvin R. Vincent calls the practice of sexual immorality the “besetting sin of Corinth” (3.215). In fact, Paul addresses several problems in Corinth related to the right placement of sexuality in the Christians life (1 Cor. 5.9-11; 6.9, 13-20; 7.1-5, 10.8). It is somewhat a generic term for one who may be involved in a wide range of illicit sexual misconduct (cf. Thayer 532; Woods, GA 151.9 (2009): 17).
The “sexually immoral” people (pornoi 1 Cor. 6.9) to whom Paul refers are those who willfully mimic the sexual patterns of a prostitute (BDAG 855; Moulton and Milligan 529). Paul understands that “some” of the Christians lived this life before becoming a child of God, now they are pure (6.10). And this is the point of Paul’s words – this was their past, and it should remain there. Christians press on (Phil. 3.13-14).
Nevertheless, we live in a culture driven by sexuality (1 Cor. 5.9-10). Everything is “sexed up” (even Disney is in on the act). Our society is so blind, it does not see beyond its own gratification to see the pathway of destruction the “free love” agenda has paved in our society. As a cultural scene, we have fallen asleep in “paradise” only to awaken in our own, self-imposed moral “exile” (Isa. 59.1-3).
Katie Roiphe wrote an engaging book entitled, Last Night in Paradise: Sex and Morals at the Century’s End. The book is well written and provides helpful lines of thought in her consideration on life in the shadow of the Sexual Revolution. We would not agree on many issues; however, she does tap into truth when she writes:
It was mostly because of AIDS that abstinence – a proposition that seemed so repressive and outlandish at the end of the seventies – began to sound sensible to more and more people. (176)
How true. When the damage is done and the physical consequences of sexual immorality materialize then we listen and search (Pro. 1.20-33).
Consequences and God
If one rejects God’s authority, or even His existence, then all things are permissible. The Jean Paul Sarte affirms as much, “Everthing is indeed permissible if God does not exist”. Similarly, famed evolutionist George G. Simpson affirms with similar clarity, that mankind “is his own master. He can and must decide his own destiny”.
When our pride surfaces and we choose our passions over God, can we blame him for the consequences of our actions? No, He does not impose upon our free will, but hands us over (“gave them up”) to the consequences of our decisions:
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Rom. 1.21-27)
How tragic that God’s word of caution to “flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6.12-20) is ridiculed as meaningless “abstinence” propaganda, comparable to Coke’s, “Can’t Beat the Real Thing”. He would spare us from the consequences of our immoral actions. God’s teaching on sexual purity is a demonstration of His ever concern for our well being (spiritual, physical, and emotional). Do not let “sex” be your reason for losing out on heaven.