Being Worse Than Anyone Thinks And Forgiven Beyond What They Can Imagine: New Creations in Christ
Sex, Lies, Drugs, Deception and Being Made Whole
It is wise to take time now and then to remember what God freed us from. In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul reminds us that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, listing several sobering sinful identities that sound familiar:
9 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.
Sounds heavy, doesn't it? Paul isn't just listing sins, He's listing identities. He's talking about lifestyles of sin. For most of us more than one of these describe our lives. Every time I read this, I am a little shaken as I remember that I don't qualify for the Kingdom of God.
Then, I read the next line....
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.
That might be the best turn of phrase I've ever read: "such were some of you." The past tense applied to my sinful identity reminds me the hope that I have in Christ like nothing else. Paul goes on to say that we were washed, sanctified, justified in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit!
It strikes me how much of the New Testament (and the Old) references new identity. New names are given when a person comes into relationship with Christ. Old allegiances are abandoned. Families, friends, and countries are traded for God and His people. Old lifestyles are cast aside like filthy garments no longer fit for the new person wearing them. We replace the old with the new life in Christ (Ephesians 2:22-24).
Scripture calls Satan the "accuser of the brethren." Day and night, he sits before God to bring accusations against us (Revelation 12:10). Think about that for a moment. Our enemy who is finite and has limited time, spends all of his time foolishly bringing accusations about us before God, accusations for sins that have already been paid for by Christ (1 Peter 2:24).
Consider for a moment that God receives the glory for every sin Jesus paid for (Hebrews 1:3) and that every word of condemnation spoken against us ("the brethren") is turned around for God's glory, because Christ paid for every sin He mentions.
God wasn't kidding when he said that all things work together for the good of them who love God (Romans 8:28). Even the accusations, especially the true ones are an opportunity for God to receive glory!
The great preacher and theologian Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, "If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are far worse than he thinks you to be." This is how we rejoice when people say all manner of evil against us (Matthew 5). Whether an accusation be true or false, we know that we have sinned a lot more than any of our accusers know, and yet the God of creation, being rich in mercy has paid for all of it!
The next time someone calls me "scumbag," the next time someone reminds me of my life before Christ, the next time someone (even myself) reminds me of my sins while knowing Christ, I can rest in the knowledge that I was far worse than they could ever know, and yet my sin debt is paid. I am a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
Our church is made up of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 kind of people. There are plenty of people who like to remind us about the verses 9-10 part of our lives. We get "scumbagged" pretty often. People assume the worse about us. Thankfully, plenty of the accusations are false. Some of them are things that use to be true of us. God receives glory when we are falsely accused and say, "Oh, that's not true at all. We were far worse than that! You have know idea how wicket we were, but we were washed, sanctified, and Justified in Christ!"
Use every accusation as an opportunity to share the Gospel.
By the way, here is an in-depth Gospel presentation that is worth watching and sharing.