“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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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 Cor. 6:9-11)
The kingdom will cost you your life of sin. An image-bearer can either hold on to Christ or hold on to their folly. There’s no middle ground. Our arms aren’t big enough to hold on to both sin and Christ. In 1 Cor. 6:9-11, the apostle Paul assumes that since God’s kingdom is a marked by righteousness, the unrighteous can have no part in it. Paul did not list ten different types of sin someone can commit to lose their salvation. He was likely comparing ten habituated actions, which by definition can find no place in God’s reign for the welfare of all. Christian believers need to be transformed if they belong authentically to God’s new creation in Christ. What are the habituated actions that exclude us from the kingdom, or give evidence that we don’t belong in the first place?
“Fornicators (πορνοι)”- Fornicators are those who commit physical or spiritual adultery. The term in this passage must refer to those who are single or celibate before marriage because an adulterer is mentioned soon after. The New Testament uses the word in the following pericopes: Matt.5:32,15:19; John 8:41; Acts 15:20; 1 Cor. 5:1,6:13,6:18;7:2,10:8; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 4:3; Rev. 2:14,2:20-21;9:21;14:8; 17:2,4. Every form of unchastity is included in the term “fornication.”
“Idolaters (ειδωλολατραι)”- Idolaters in the New Testament are those who not only give to any creature or human creation the honor or devotion which belongs to God alone, but those who give to any human desire a precedence over God’s will (1 Cor.10:14; Gal. 5:20; Col. 3:5; 1 Pet. 4:3).
“Adulterers (μοιχοι)”- Adulterers are any married men or women who are sexually or intimately unfaithful to their spouse. The terms fornicator can be used interchangeably.
“Effeminate (μαλακοι)”- Effeminates are those who are considered “soft” or figuratively catamites. The word is used only two other times in Scripture but their context involves clothing and it’s texture (Matt. 11:18; Luke 7:25). In the Roman culture, an effeminate was the passive partner during homosexual intercourse. Much debate surrounds this term and its translation due to our present culture and beliefs around us. Paul further condemns homosexual practices in Rom. 1:26-17.
“Homosexuals (αρσενοκοιται)”- Homosexuals are those who have a desire for the same sex and seek to corrupt the man/woman relationship that God ordained as sacred. The term occurs in 1 Tim. 1:9-10 where the wording is similar to the Septuagint’s translation of Lev. 18:22 and 20:13. In the Roman culture, a homosexual or someone who defiles himself sexually with another man is the aggressive partner during homosexual intercourse.
“Thieves (κλεπται)”- Thieves are those who take away another man’s property, secret or openly, by fraud or force. The term is used in the New Testament in Matt. 6:19-20, 15:19; Mark. 7:21-22, 11:17; Luke 19:45-46; John 10:1; Rom. 2:21; 1 Cor.6:8, 10; Eph. 4:28; Tit. 2:10; 1 Pet. 4:15; Rev. 3:3, 9:21.
“Covetous (πλεονεκται)”- Covetous people in the New Testament are people who wish to have more than what they posses and desire to have other people’s things. These are people who are eager to gain. The term is used in the New Testament in 1 Cor. 5:10-11 and Eph. 5:5.
“Drunkards(μεθυσοι)”- Drunkards are those who indulge in too much alcohol. The word occurs only one time outside of this immediate passage in 1 Cor. 5:11.
“Revilers (λοιδοροι)”- Revilers are those who spread rumors and scandals out of evil desires or motive. They destroy with their tongues (Jas. 3). The word occurs only one time outside of this immediate passage in 1 Cor. 5:11.
“Swindlers (αρπαγες)”- Swindlers are those who use dishonest or manipulative tactics for social, political, material, or monetary gain. The word occurs three other times in Luke 18:11, 1 Cor. 5:11, and Matt. 7:15.
The reality is that we use to be those things. Some of you were. Yet, something glorious has occurred. As we were on our way to destruction, hell-bent on our own selfishness and greed, Jesus Christ interrupted our sin and shame. Paul says, “…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.” If this grace-wrought work of joy has occurred, you are defined by the merits of Christ-not sin. Is this you? The question is then what or rather who defines you? We are either slaves to sin or slaves to obedience (Rom. 6:16). Which is it? Paul admonishes us to “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Cor. 13:5)”