Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.1 Corinthians 6:9-11
In the end, we will be seen as either part of the Body of Christ or as a being who is their sin. The passage above calls out a number of sins, not to identify them as more damnable, but to highlight a transformation that absolutely occurs before the eyes of God because of Christ and to which we also want to see in our thoughts, words and deeds. We don’t want to be “deceived” that the things above are not sin. Justifying these behaviors is the way to put them out of the reach of both change and forgiveness. Last entry, I briefly discussed the first four. I would like to continue with the list in verse 10 this week.
Thieves. We all understand that taking property that is not yours is improper. Can we talk ourselves into justifying stealing in certain situations or of certain amounts? Two situations stand out for me: stealing from the government because we do not support all that they do, and stealing because necessity makes it seem like the lesser evil.
Cheating the government on taxes is rather common. I know I have foreign readers. Depending on your country, cheating the government can be even more common than in the U.S. Some countries, like Greece, almost became failed states because of tax fraud and corruption. Regardless of its justification, Christians do not correct a wrong with another wrong. We want our integrity to be in tact. So we want to be honest to a fault, even with small amounts. Does that mean that we should drive miles to return a small amount of change, wasting gas in the process? No. But we do not steal out of sense of who we are.
The greedy. Greed is an infectious disease. Do not confuse having wealth with greed. It is possible to earn and deserve much based on your contribution. But beware of talking yourself into gains you really didn’t earn. Be legal, ethical, generous, preferring to error on the side of not taking what you are due. This will preserve peace and relationships in many situations.
Drunkards. I have become much more aware that substance abuse, especially alcoholism, is a global sin. Using alcohol or pain killer is not evil in itself. Crossing over from legitimate use where you remain in control of your reasoning and faculties to use where you need a substance to cope with boredom, emotional pain, self-hatred, unpleasant circumstance or whatever motive is the problem. The crossover point is different in every person. Your rationalization of the abuse is the biggest problem.
What if you don’t recognize the problem? Again, if you take a medicine as a maintenance medicine for an ongoing problem, that is not addiction. Do you use it for other reasons? Does it affect your life in negative ways? That is addiction. Is addiction an illness or a sin? Yes. Our bodies are flawed by sinful nature and often wired up to be addicted. Jesus died for sinners, so Jesus died for the addicted. Unrepentant addiction is where you have no desire to be free. God alone is the judge of it. Try not to test where the line exists.
Revilers. A verbal abuser. This could be anyone from a parent, a spouse, a child, a chronic complainer, a social media troller, a political critic or many others. We all have opinions. We all have complaints. Do we become a person who feels it is their mission in life to complain? Do we balance our complaints with praise? God changes a heart of complaint into a heart of love.
And finally swindlers. My parents, like many of their generation, were basically trusting people. What a shame it was to see trusting others become a real liability. Scammers of all sorts, found them. In their ignorance and sometimes just because they needed an exciting hope, they believed and sent money. From scamming old people to deceiving corporations swindling has become big time. Since much of it crosses international boundaries on the internet, enforcement of laws is hard to do. But God will do it. Those who will not repent of swindling will not be a part of the Kingdom of God.
As mentioned before, this list is not comprehensive. There are other sins that we can be aware of but rationalize them to the point that Jesus can’t help. We are what we are at the moment. God loves us despite ourselves. It is critical to both being a good disciple of Jesus and the preservation of the connection we have to Jesus to recognize sin where it is and for what it is. Some of the list of sins may not be an issue for us at all. Others are changed forever by working with God. But the desire to be different, forgiven and free from sin is a God-breathed desire that needs to remain alive no matter the cost.