Soteriology’s Most Ignored Verses–1 Corinthians 6

Two times Paul lists a bunch of sins and says people who do these things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. His first list is in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and the other is in Galatians 5:19-21.

These verses plainly say that people who persistently follow these sins are not saved. This is the clear message, which, again, is why we need commentaries to explain to us how actually Paul meant the exact opposite of what he just said.

So, we can conclude with most commentaries that Paul is actually OK with people persisting in these sins, we can then argue, “And what constitutes ‘persisting?’ One time a day? Two? Three?” We can then follow-up with “he’s referring to our position in Christ, not our actual behavior.”

Thus, we have eliminated Paul’s point and can carry on doing unrighteousness and convince ourselves we are going to heaven.

However, if you’d rather face the truth, read Paul’s context. After his list of sinners who won’t be in heaven, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:11, “and such were some of you,” which clearly teaches that those who are saved, washed, cleansed, do not continue in their sins as they did before.

Galatians 5 follows the list of sins with the fruit of the Spirit. A man with the Spirit will have this fruit and not the works of the flesh on display. Paul is speaking of practical sanctification, a real, true change in a man.

There may be a process of cleansing in practice, but it will happen if a man is truly saved.

1 Corinthians 6 says sinners won’t be in heaven and Acts 16:31 and Ephesians 2:8 tell us we are saved by faith, is there a contradiction?

No, what you have is part of the Bible’s definition of faith. Faith without putting off sin is no faith at all. You must have faith first, the ability to hear and putting off sin is the result of hearing–you do what you’re told and we are told to put off sin and all filthiness of the flesh and Spirit, only the believer can do this and the believer will!

If you do not do what you’re told, you have not heard, and thus, you have no faith. I could go on, but I’ve made enough of a case to get you thinking and that’s what I intended to do. Consider my hole dug.

11 thoughts on “Soteriology’s Most Ignored Verses–1 Corinthians 6”

  1. I love the line, “This is the clear message, which, again, is why we need commentaries to explain to us how actually Paul meant the exact opposite of what he just said.” And for those who don’t read commentares, we have preachers! Always a welcome jolt to visit your blog. Thanks.

  2. Jeff,
    Why do you think that those who are reformed in their theology would disagree with what you have been writing about these past posts? My church is reformed and we totally embrace the book of James, faith without works is no faith.

  3. Most people of Reformed Theology would agree with these posts. My point was about Sola Fide, which literally means “by faith alone,” which is contradicted by James who says “not by faith alone.” Faith without works is faith alone, thus Sola Fide seems off to me.

  4. Alas, the hole is not deep enough!

    The real problem is that most churches declares that they believe in faith and works, but when you dig a bit deeper, you find that there are many excuses for why Christians cannot do the works commanded, or why they can fail as often as they like, or why they can invent their own standard in place of God’s, and still supposedly find a place in the purity of heaven. And, as a general rule, the law (especially the ten commandments) is treated with disdain by describing it as “old covenant”, “legalism”, “phariseeism”, “yoke of bondage”, “impossible to keep”.

    But without the law, I cannot really know sin. “I had not known sin but by the law” (Rom. 7). And without a knowledge of the spiritual nature of the law (“the law is spiritual”, Rom. 7), to search the inmost depths of the soul, I will not feel my utter need of the purity and righteousness that the gospel provides. And if I don’t know my need, I will not ask for the remedy.

    Hence, such churches can only be filled with half-converted people, who think they have God’s righteousness, but do not. And since the law is not presented in such a way as to help them see it, they are left to follow their own standard and call it “love”, or “the Spirit”. Each man does “what is right in his own eyes” (a condition that is condemned by Deut. 12, Judges 17, and Prov. 12), and this is nurtured under the terms “freedom of conscience” or “my personal relationship with God.”

    An inadequate faith that expects God to do much less than He has promised, must produce inadequate works…works polluted with selfishness. And these are not the Bible-prescribed “works” that follow Bible-prescribed “faith”.

    This is the real problem.

  5. The whole law can be summed up in two commands, and they are both based on love. To love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind requires us to die to ourselves, and to place God’s ways above our own. To love our neighbors requires that we are to love them as much as we love ourselves. True faith operates with love as it’s motivator, one could try and follow the law out of sheer will power, but the results would be unpleasing to God. Telling people to shape up or ship out is not the gospel, the gospel is a love story about finding life through death, both His and ours.

    And I would further add that this is no hole but a mountain top experience!

  6. Paul,
    To sum up what I think you are stating: Love is superior to law; Law is either “sheer will power” or “shape up or ship out”; Law is harsh, stern, unforgiving, cold; Love is warm, refreshing, inspiring. There are a few problems here:

    1. The law is a representation of God’s own character, so how could it be harsh, stern, unforgiving, and cold? The law is holy, just and good (Romans 7); God is holy, just, and good. Justice, mercy and faith are the “weightier matters of the law.” The law gives wisdom, understanding, blessings, even life…all the saints love them and cling to them, as of more value than gold (Psalm 119). Jesus “delighted to do God’s will, for the law was in His heart.” (Ps. 40). Notice how it says that “the law” was in His heart…it does not say “love” was in His heart. There is actually no difference.

    2. Sin is extremely deceitful and devious. It loves to find ways of convincing the soul that it is going to heaven, while living out it’s own rebellious will. The law, spiritually applied by the Holy Spirit, is the tool to discover the hiding places of this Achan, this self-righteous Cain. Achan, after all, only took one small garment…he still loved to be part of Israel, he still loved God. Why was God so harsh with him? Also, Cain only modified the offering a tiny bit. He was still offering something to God, even the fruit of his own labor! Why was God so inflexible as not to receive this offering of “love”? It is much easier to deceive ourselves into thinking we love our neighbor and God, when love is not closely defined within the safe boundaries of God’s law.

    3. God’s purpose in preaching the law was not to arouse “sheer will power” to keep it. “Sheer will power” is the Old Covenant. This highlights the problem with most teaching in modern churches about the law: they do not distinguish between:
    a. the Law, as God intended it: to inspire and convict, to lead to Christ, and to witness and testify to the work of grace; and
    b. the Old Covenant, which were the attempts of a carnal heart to try and keep God’s law, by “sheer will power”.
    Emotionally-inspired feelings of love are just as ineffective as sheer will power in keeping the commandments of God. Both will fail, in the struggle against “imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.”

    4. The places Christ has prepared for His saints are the highest seats of power in the universe, next to Him. It’s a very serious calling, and requires an extraordinary preparation. Harvard university is nothing compared with this. We’re not just going to heaven to have another “family barbecue”. Many people will follow Christ for “loaves and fishes”…they want the reward, the external benefits. After all, who wants to die forever (or if you believe in eternal hell, who wants to burn forever)?

    But very few want the spiritual qualifications: “to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ”, as Jesus put it, and after He said that, many left him. Very few are willing to put forth the effort and sacrifice it takes to reach those qualifications…but that is what real faith will do. It was so with Abraham! Jesus did not say to the rich young ruler, “sell a few things now, and later you can sell some more”. No! He said “sell all, and follow Me”. Was this harsh of Jesus to hold up such a ridiculously high standard so as to discourage this man? No, not at all. Riches were the idol. You cannot serve God and idols; first and second commandments of the law.

    “Shape up or ship out”? Certainly there is no place for men to throw others out of the church or try to uproot the tares…but a faithful preaching of the law and gospel (together), will be offensive to many, and will cause many to leave. If you haven’t seen this, then you have not yet heard the real preaching of the Word.

  7. Frank,
    You summed up my reply totally wrong, never did I say that love was superior to the law. I said the law could be summed up in two commands Love God with all your heart, soul and mind. And love your neighbor as your self. Perhaps you should reread it, and reply to what I actually said, please don’t put words in my mouth that I didn’t say (or write in this case). The greatest of all the gifts of God, is love. if I faith to move mountains but have not love I am nothing.

  8. Paul,
    I was careful to qualify my reply with the phrase: “to sum up what I think you are saying”. I did give you the benefit of the doubt. But I sense that you do not agree with what I stated…otherwise you would simply have said, “no you are wrong, I agree with you!” Well, you are not being so clear, although I well know what is taught out there in the christian world, and I’ve been in my father-in-laws church (he is a Christian Reformed minister), so I know what is taught there as well. There IS a downgrading of the law, in the name of love. But is it the real love?

    You mentioned 1 Cor. 13. “If I have all faith so as to move mountains, but have not love.” I want to ask you, how is this possible? “The gospel is the power of God to salvation, for everyone who believes.” How then is it possible to have “all faith”, and yet not have this love, since it is by faith that we are saved?

    The simple answer is that the “all faith” Paul is referring to here is the kind that “moves mountains”…in other words, it is a faith that only reaches to external blessings. “By faith the people crossed the Red Sea” (Heb. 11:29). Mountains of water were moved by their faith. But they did not have new covenant faith yet. The mountains of sin in their soul were not yet moved. They knew they needed deliverance from outward bondage (to Egypt) but they didn’t know their need of deliverance from spiritual bondage.

    So what did God do? He introduced His law. Therefore, it is only when our souls are tested and probed by the law of God, that we begin to realise that we do not have THAT kind of love. We thought we loved God for all the things He has done for us, but the Law shows us that our love is not what we think it is. Peter thought he loved Christ more than the others…but when pressed by temptation he resorted to lying to save himself.

    So again, the law is absolutely essential to bring us to realise our need of this love: the love of God in the soul, which in turn is manifested in obedience to that same Law. The Gospel and Law work hand in hand.

    Some people (I’m not saying you!) have said that the saying of Jesus, “be you therefore perfect” should actually be rendered “be you therefore merciful as your Father in heaven.” This again, shows how people try to get around the law (and perfect obedience) with some other substitute that they think is easier to perform. But is it merciful to lie?…to kill?…to steal?…to commit adultery?…is it merciful to worship idols more than God? No! You can go through all the commandments and you will find that it is never merciful to break God’s law…for sin is selfishness, and selfishness is the opposite of mercy. Therefore, to be truly merciful as God is merciful, is to be perfectly obedient to His Law!

  9. Paul, no that is not real clear. Just as there are two types of obedience (works of the law, and obedience of faith), so there are two types of love. Just quoting a verse from the Bible does not indicate which type you are presenting.

    As an example, the religious leaders who condemned Christ, argued that it was the best thing for the whole nation, and their religion. You could say, the “loved” their nation and religion so much, that they allowed nothing to stand in the way. They “never failed” to defend those two things. Did they therefore fulfil this verse in 1 Cor 13? Not at all…it was what God called hatred, lies, and murder.

    In our day, we no longer have questions about such issues as circumcision, fastings, offerings, how far you can travel on the Sabbath day, and so forth. That does not mean the old covenant/legalism/works-of-the-flesh have suddenly disappeared? No, instead they are “transformed into an angel of light” and called “love” (or faith, or grace). Those are the fashionable terms of our day, under which we try to hide our sin.

    Therefore, the way to distinguish the real from the counterfeit is to bring them to the test of the law: “if you love me, keep my commandments”. Those two: love and law, always go hand in hand.

    If you think you are a good commandment-keeper, then you need to test yourself on the other side: “do I have faith, is my love steadfast and true, do I have real justice, and longsuffering mercy?”

    But if you are confident that you have true love, then you need to test yourself on the commandments: “do I have submissive obedience, do I have victory over secret sins and imaginations, have I put aside my idols, do I rejoice in God’s law?”

  10. Wow I can’t even quote the Bible and be right in your eyes Frank, now who is seating in the judgement seat?
    Farewell Frank!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: