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Sin in the Church

A Study of I Corinthians 6:9-10

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Context

The church at Corinth had many problems in living the Christian life. Their problems did not come from a rebellious attitude toward God. Most of their problems came from a misunderstanding of God's law.

In I Corinthians 5:1-8, Paul takes the Corinthians to task for accepting an immoral person as a member of their congregation. In this particular instance, the man was having sex with his father's wife (I Corinthians 5:1). Because of the wording, we can conclude that the woman was not his biological mother. The church was tolerant of the man's practice. In fact, Paul said that the church was proud to have him as a member (I Corinthians 5:2). Perhaps they mistakenly believed that a person was better off in the church than in the world even if he was not morally perfect. Paul shows the flaw in their reasoning and shows that their acceptance would lead to the downfall of the congregation.

In I Corinthians 5:9-13, Paul explains that Christians must live to a higher moral standard than that which is accepted by the world. While we must live in the world and associate with the corrupt people of the world, Christians are not to tolerate moral corruption among their own number.

In I Corinthians 6:1-8, Paul proves that Christians have the right and the obligation to judge the actions of other Christians. Their judgement will be superior to anyone of the world because they have a superior law with which to live.



The Passage

"Or do you not know"

What Paul is about to say should be clear to every Christian, but the Corinthians have been acting as if they were ignorant of these basic truths.

"That the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?"

The kingdom of God is simply another way of referring to the church. (For example, compare Hebrews 12:23 to Hebrews 12:28.) The inheritance is referring to the time when the church receives the eternal reward prepared for its members (Matthew 25:31-34). Paul is simply stating the obvious: Sinners cannot go to heaven.

"Do not be deceived:"

The reason the Corinthians were accepting the opposite was because they were deceiving themselves. This is the way Satan works. The truth is obvious, but to get us to accept a lie, Satan deceives us into believing the truth is not so clear. This is what Satan did with Eve in the Garden in Genesis 3 and it is what he continues to do in the world today.

"Neither fornicators"

This is a person who has sex outside of the covenant of marriage.

"Nor idolators"

This is a person who worships other gods. As you go through the rest of the sins listed in verse 9 you will notice that all of them have to do with some form of sexual sin, except for this one. Yet, even this word hints at sexual sins. Corinth was a major seaport and the center of worship for the goddess Aphrodites, the goddess of love. The temple in Corinth was said to have 1,000 prostitutes serving the goddess and the main form of "worship" was having sex. In Corinth, idol worship was an immoral sexual act.

"Nor adulterers"

This is a person who is having sex with another person and one of them is married, but they are not married each other. It is listed separately from fornication because not only is immoral sex is taking place, but the covenant of marriage is also being violated.

"Nor effeminate"

This is a person who acts and dresses as a person of the opposite sex. Such behavior has been condemned in the Old as well as the New Law (Deuteronomy 22:5).

"Nor homosexuals"

This is a person who engages in sexual acts with a person of the same gender. A man having sex with a man or a woman with a woman. (See also Romans 1:26-27.)

"Nor thieves"

This is a person who takes things that belong to someone else.

"Nor the covetous"

This is a person who wants what belongs to someone else. This is not simply a matter of seeing a person with a new chair and thinking "I would like a new chair too." This a person who sees the chair and thinks he deserves the chair more than the owner and is willing to "correct" the situation by helping himself to the chair.

Covetousness is often connected with adultery because the person engaged in it desires the spouse of another and is willing to take what doesn't belong to him. (See Ephesians 5:5).

"Nor drunkard"

This is a person under the influence of alcohol.

"Nor revilers"

This is a person who constantly gets into mischief. He abuses others verbally.

"Nor swindler"

This is the person who takes other people's money by deception or by force.

"Shall inherit the kingdom of God"

A person cannot practice these sins and expect to enter heaven.

Verse 11 tells us that some of the Corinthians had once engaged in these sinful acts, but they have left their sins behind when they became Christians.