The Problem with Lawsuits Page 9 of 12 (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)
by John Lowe
Be not deceived:
Paul uses this phrase often in his epistles. There is no excuse for any believer becoming the victim of deception, because all believers possess the Holy Spirit. I Peter 2.6 tells us plainly, “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him (Jesus) shall not be confounded (confused).” Believers have THE LIGHT, and if we walk in that light as the Holy Spirit directs, we will not be deceived. We have the word of God—a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our pathway (Psalm 119.105).
This warning is against them deceiving themselves: Be not deceived. Those who know the truth mentioned in the beginning of this verse are too apt to ignore it. Men are inclined to flatter themselves by supposing that God is like one of them, and that they may live in sin and still die in Christ, they may lead the life of the devil's children and in spite of that go to heaven with the children of God. But this is all a gross deception. But, the truth of the matter is that we cannot hope to sow to the flesh and yet reap everlasting life. The tendency to divorce religion from morality has manifested itself down through the ages, and under all forms of religion. The pagan, the Jew, the Muslim, the nominal Christian, have all been faithful in the performance of religious services, and fervent in the affirmation and defense of what they regard as religious truth, while indulging in every evil passion. This view of life arises from looking upon religion as an outward service, and God as a being to be feared and pacified, but not to be loved and obeyed. According to the Gospel, all moral duties are religious services; and piety is the conformity of the soul to the image and will of God. So, to be religious and yet immoral is, according to the Christian system, as blatant a contradiction as to be good and wicked. It is evident that among the members of the Corinthian church there were some who retained their pagan notion of religion, and who professed Christianity as a system of doctrine and as a form of worship, but not as a rule of life. The apostle warned all such people of their fatal mistake. He assures them that no immoral man – no one who allows himself the indulgence of any known sin – can be saved. This is one of the first principles of the Gospel.
In this verse and verse 10, Paul names certain individuals who will not under any circumstances enter into the eternal kingdom of God’s eternal glory. Certainly a book could be written here, but for the sake of time and space I will only briefly discuss the ten categories.
“Fornication” is used here as a general term to describe several kinds of sexual vice, but it typically refers to consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other; but sometimes it means forsaking God and following after idols (Isa 1:2; Jer 2:20; Ezek 16; Hos 1:2; Hos 2:1-5; Jer 3:8, 9). In modern usage, the term is often replaced with the more judgment-neutral terms such as premarital sex, sex before marriage or extramarital sex. So then, is an occasional act of fornication or homosexuality a big deal to God? Of course it is; because it goes against everything we have been given in Jesus, and because a lifestyle of sin begins with single acts of sin. In every form, it was sternly condemned by the Mosaic law (Lev 21:9; Lev 19:29; Deut 22:20, 21, 23-29; Deut 23:18; Ex 22:16).
Idolaters are those who worship more gods than one, and not the true God; who serve them that are not gods, and perform what the Jews call "strange service." They not only worship animals and stones, but serve various lusts and pleasures; the idols of their own hearts. Fornication and idolatry are frequently associated with each other in scripture. Many of the religions of idolatry practiced—and still practice—gross sexual immorality in the name of religion. During Paul’s time, the temple of Aphrodite atop the Acro Corinthus, dominated the Corinthian scene. As Halley said, "A thousand public prostitutes, kept at public expense, were always ready (in the temple) for immoral indulgence as worship to their goddess!" In such an atmosphere, some of
the Corinthians were finding it difficult to adjust to the strict code of Christian morality.
“Adulterers” are persons who are not faithful to the marriage vows. Jesus sheds light on adultery in the Sermon on the Mount, declaring that if a man looks upon a woman and lusts after her, he has committed adultery with her in his heart. (Man looks upon the outward appearance, but God always looks upon the heart.) I could say a lot about adultery, but one thing must be said: Ladies should be very careful how they dress, and how they conduct themselves when around men. A well-meaning woman can be used by Satan to cause men to commit adultery, which could be the first step on the road that would eventually lead them to the lake of fire. We are our brother’s keeper in this respect.
Macknight wrote that this word is translated from a Greek word meaning "catamite," the technical word for "a boy used in pederasty.” Pederasty is an English term that means sexual relations between a man and a boy (with the boy as a passive partner). Those wretched souls who suffered this abuse were called pathics, and they dressed and behaved like women." The word translated effeminate is malakoi. This word occurs in Matthew 11:8, and Luke 7:25, where it is applied to clothing, and translated "soft raiment;" that is, the light, thin garments worn by the rich and great. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament except here. Applied to morals, as it is here, it denotes those who give themselves up to a soft, luxurious, and apathetic way of living; who make self-indulgence the grand object of life; who can endure no hardship, and practice no self-denial in their service to God. The word is applied by the classic writers to the Cinaedi, the Pathics, or Catamites; those who are dedicated to wantonness and sensual pleasures, or who are kept to be prostituted to others. That is probably the interpretation that should be applied here. It is well known that this vice was common among the Greeks—and was prevalent at Corinth.
Nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
I am confident that this refers to the sin of sodomy and the culture of homosexuality. It should be remembered that an apostle of Jesus Christ condemned such persons with the judgment that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God. I recommend that you read Romans 1.18-32, paying special attention to verses 26 and 27—“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”
William Barclay's masterful discussion of homosexuality should be read by every Christian. This was the cancer in Greek life that invaded Rome, and brought the vaunted empire to destruction. Fourteen of the first fifteen Roman emperors practiced this vice; others guilty of it were Socrates and Plato. Nero castrated and married a boy called Sporus, which he held as his wife, and at the same time married Pythagoras and called him his husband!
What is to be thought of churches which not only condone this sin, but in widely publicized cases have actually ordained homosexuals to the ministry? It is the judgment of this writer that churches exhibiting such a total disregard of the New Testament have, in so doing, forfeited all identity with Christianity.
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
A thief is, of course, a person who takes away another man's property, secretly or openly, by fraud or force. One of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shalt not steal.” There are many ways in which we can steal from our fellow man, but there is no place in heaven for a thief. A thief not only breaks man’s law, but he breaks God’s law as well. The Bible mentions “thieves” in many places, and none of it is good; Matthew 21:19; Matthew 23:14,33; John 12:6; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:6; 1 Peter 4:15. 1 Peter 4.15 says, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.”