by Shawn Brasseaux
Can a homosexual get saved? What about prostitutes and whoremongers? Is God willing to save thieves and drunkards? An idolater? Adulterers and adulteresses? Does God really love these people? Should we love them? Is there really any hope for them? In this Bible study, we want to answer those questions by looking at God’s Word.
Let us turn to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 KJV for the answer:
“9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: 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.”
The Corinthian church was one of Paul’s most immature assemblies, which is why they had a host of problems. In chapter 6 here, Paul deals with the Corinthian believers suing each other in the pagan courts… regarding minor issues too! Verses 1-5 tell us that none of those believers had enough spiritual wisdom and maturity to say, “Hey, let us stop this nonsense because we are being a reproach to Christ! Let us settle this among ourselves as civilized, mature Christians!” Oh how sad (but how true this is for “the church” at large today).
Notice the specific sins that Paul listed in verses 9 and 10: fornication, idolatry, adultery, those who were “effeminate” (men who behaved like women), homosexuality (“abusers of themselves with mankind”), theft, coveting, drunkenness, blasphemy (to God or others), and extortionists (stealing by force or coercion). Then, verse 11 reads, “and such were some of you….” Just think on that one statement for just a few moments. Exactly what was Paul saying? That God can save anyone and everyone, no matter how vile their lifestyle, no matter how wicked they are!
Some of these Corinthians lived horrible, sinful lives before they came to Christ (unfortunately, some of them still chose to live that way even after they were saved). To man, they were beyond hope. They were just “too sinful” for God to help…or were they? The glorious truth is (verse 11): “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.” Now that they were saved, they were washed in Christ’s blood, set apart for God’s use (sanctified), and justified (right standing before God) in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Let us compare 1 Corinthians chapter 6 with what Paul told the believers in Colosse. Consider Colossians 3:5-8 KJV:
“5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”
Note what Paul writes in verse 7: “in the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.” The Colossians were once pagan Gentiles, but now they were saved. They were once idolaters, fornicators, homosexuals, coveters, and addicts, but now, they were children of God. The Holy Spirit empowered the Colossians to “put off” (literally, “deny”) the sins they once committed. Sin did not rule their lives anymore; their lives were now bringing glory and honor to God, the Lord Jesus Christ, but they still fell occasionally into sin. Nevertheless, God had given them a new identity in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
In his epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes (2:1-10):
“1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Before we came to trust in the Lord, we were “dead in trespasses and sins.” We were walking under the influence of the devil, Satan. Our behavior was in direct opposition to God’s will for our lives. At that time, we were doing what we wanted, when we wanted, and we never bothered to ponder the fact that God still loved us with a love so awesome that we could never adequately express in words. But, because of our sin, God’s righteousness had been violated, and His justice would meet out the penalty. Someone would have to die—“the wages of sin is death,” the Good Book says in Romans 6:23a.
The great love God had for man sent Him to an old rugged cross. God would die in the place of wicked mankind and His blood would be the “propitiation”—the fully satisfying payment—for our sins (Romans 3:25). Our old identity and our old self died on Calvary with the Lord Jesus, but when He rose from the dead, God also “quickened” us, or “made us alive.” We are no longer “children of wrath,” for Jesus Christ suffered in our place God’s wrath against our sin.
Grace is everything that God can do for us through the Lord Jesus Christ and the work of Calvary. When we “believed on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31)—or placed our faith and trust in that finished work of Calvary—God took our unrighteousness and gave us Christ’s righteousness. We have now been made “the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Now, in Christ, we are sitting in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6,7). In the ages to come of eternity, we will see exactly how immense God’s grace really is!
God has called us to point out sin so that mankind can see their need for the Saviour Jesus Christ, but we should not attack people because of particular sins they are committing. When evangelizing the lost world, we need to remember that we were just as lost as they are. We were enemies of God, even if we were not murderers, fornicators, homosexuals, or thieves. Never should we get the self-righteous attitude and we should not snub our nose at them. In meekness and love, we treat the lost world with respect, remembering that we too were once without God.
Our own righteousness did not save us, so there is no reason for us to boast that we worked our way to heaven. In fact, we did nothing to work for salvation: we took God’s grace and salvation as a gift by faith, and we urge the lost world to do the same.
Now, we are not living worthless, sinful lives—that old lifestyle is gone, hidden forever “with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). We have been “created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” and the Lord Jesus Christ will now bring about those good works in and through us (Ephesians 2:10)!
Many a time when I read tracts and “salvation” literature I will see the statement, “In order to be saved, you must turn from your sins.” This, according to religion, is “repentance”—this is not Biblical repentance, by the way. Moreover, how can we tell lost people to “turn from their sins” in order to get saved if people who are already saved have not and will not turn from their sins? I have been saved for 16 years now, and I still sin on a daily basis!
Even after we are saved, we will still sin. That theme is evident throughout First Corinthians. Romans chapter 7 and Galatians 5:16-26 also make it abundantly clear that we still sin as Christians because we live in these bodies of flesh. It is only when we let the Lord Jesus live His life in and through us that we stop sin; when we resist God’s Word working within us, then sin slips in.
Just as God in His grace saved the sinners in Corinth, in Ephesus, and in Colosse, so God’s grace can supersede the sin of any individual living today! As Romans 5:20 explains: “…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:” We see the lost world around us continuing in their day-to-day sinful activities, the same sins about which Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Colossians 3:5-8, and Ephesians 2:1-3. Nevertheless, God does not impute their sin to them. In fact, in this the Dispensation of Grace, God is extending His love, mercy, and grace toward mankind (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
Never should we look down on those who are without Christ, living in sin and rebellion against God. After all, we have read the Bible when it said that before we came to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we were equally guilty of sin and rebellion against God, and even as Christians we feel the urge to rebel against God’s Word. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 KJV). That goes for Christians too!
Let us conclude by turning to our final passage, Romans 5:6-10 KJV:
“6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
The Lord Jesus did not die for “goody-goodies.” The only people for whom Christ died were lost people, “ungodly people,” “sinners,” “enemies of God.” Who is that? EVERY ONE OF US! The only person God can save is a sinner! As members of the Church the Body of Christ, we should be proclaiming the wonderful news that the people of the world are ALL candidates for God’s grace! Be the light to the lost world, and treat them with love as you share the Lord Jesus Christ with them. Remember, whatever people we meet who are struggling with various sins, let us remember… “ and such were SOME OF [US]!”