“Some of you were once like that.” (1 Corinthians 6:11a NLT)
The laws of God were very important to Jesus when He walked the pathways of this earth.
Jesus said: “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”
What’s my point? Jesus didn’t minimize the law, He compounded it. He didn’t try to make it easier to obey, but more difficult. Why? In order that we might understand what a tremendous gift He was offering us in meeting the demands of the law on our behalf.
If I don’t understand how hopeless I am to meet the demands of a holy God on my own, I’ll never understand why I’m helpless to earn my way into heaven or pay the penalty for my own sin. Unless I can see that I have a debt I can’t pay, I’ll never appreciate the fact that Jesus has paid the debt on my behalf. As long as Satan can have me convinced that I’m a good person and my sin doesn’t really matter because of the grace of God, I’ll miss heaven by default.
Believing wrongly about something is not an excuse that God will accept, any more than a righteous judge on earth will. If you’re caught with an open container of alcohol in your car, when the car is turned off and you’re not even behind the wheel, you’re still in violation of the law. And to stand before the judge and your only defense is: “I didn’t know it was against the law,” you’ll still be found guilty.
We’ve got to help people in our spheres of influence understand it’s not simply an issue of our behavior, it’s a matter of being disobedient to the laws of God. We’ve got to help them understand the love of God will not save them from the death penalty their sin demands because they’re ignorant of what His laws are.
Bad behavior is the outward manifestation of inward disobedience to and no regard for the laws of God. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or are abusive, or cheat people – none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
This, of course, isn’t an exhaustive list of sins we can commit, but the point is, unless and until we understand that it’s not our outward manifestations of sin alone that condemn us, we’ll continue to seek to correct the outward behavior without seeking Jesus who is the only One who can give us a new heart. Even seeming “righteous” behavior lived with the wrong motives or desires, reveals a heart that is far from God.
Psalm 51:17 says: “The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Righteousness is not contrived or rehearsed, it’s a gift from the Spirit that enables us to live under the constant rule and reign of the Spirit who indwells us as children of God. One of the most beautiful lines in Scripture to me is the first few words of 1 Corinthians 6:11 (above) when Paul wrote: “Some of you were once like that.”
We all have a past. Every child of God was once a blatant sinner who was clearly disobeying the laws of God, but who is now saved by grace. We must focus, not on what we once were, but what we now are – a repentant, blood-bought, forgiven child of God, who was rescued by our only eternal source of hope. Then share the hope we’ve found in Jesus with those we love who are still living in violation of God’s laws.
Blessings, Ed 😊