GOD’S MERCY TO THE VILEST SINNERS
1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
AS long as men retain within them the seeds of their original corruption, so long they will be liable to (all into sin, and consequently they will need to be instigated by every motive that can be adduced, to persevere in the ways of holiness. Now there are scarcely any stronger incentives to obedience, than a recollection of the inseparable connexion which there is between sin and misery; and a view of the unspeakable mercies which we ourselves have received at God’s hands. It was by these considerations that St. Paul urged the Corinthians to abstain from some practices in which they were engaged, and from others to which they were particularly exposed. They had gone to law with each other even in the Gentile courts, instead of settling their disputes by arbitration amongst themselves. It is probable too that some among them thought but lightly of the sin of fornication; since the close of the chapter is wholly occupied with that subject. His address to them was well adapted to the occasion; in that it appealed at once to their fears and to their gratitude; and thus secured the influence of their ingenuous feelings, as well as of those which were of a more selfish nature.
His words will lead us to shew,
I. The awful condition of the ungodly—
Those who live in sin will have no part in the inheritance of the saints. Though some of the sins specified in this black catalogue are such as cannot be mentioned with delicacy, or thought of but with horror, yet far the greater part are as common in Christian lands as among the heathen themselves: but, by whatever name men call themselves, they who live in such sins “shall never inherit the kingdom of God.” The manner in which this declaration is made, calls for our particular attention. Mark,
1. The Appeal—
[The Apostle appeals to our own consciences; “Know ye not this?” However ignorant ye be, are ye not well assured in your own minds, that persons living, and dying, in the commission of any of these sins, must perish? Does not Scripture, does not reason, does not conscience tell you, that there must be a difference put between the just and unjust in the day of judgment? — — —]
2. The Caution—
[The Apostle next cautions us against self-deception. We are apt to extenuate these crimes, and to conceal their enormity by some specious name. Fornication and adultery are youthful indiscretions: drunkenness is conviviality: covetousness and extortion are prudence, and the common licence of trade. Thieving is confined to one species of dishonesty; whilst a defrauding of the revenue, and a neglect of paying one’s debts, and many other kinds of theft, are practised without remorse. As for “reviling,” the conversation of many consists of little else than speaking against their neighbour; and especially when they have received from him any real or fancied injury: yet that is considered as nothing more than a proper token of their contempt for such conduct as they disapprove. And a soft, easy, indolent, “effeminate” manner of life, such as indicates an aversion to do any thing or suffer any thing for Christ, is reputed innocent, as though a Christian had nothing to do but to please himself. Moreover, if men be free from the grosser acts of sin, they pay no attention to the dispositions of their minds; though, in reality, dispositions are as hateful to God, and as much reprobated in the text, as overt acts. But, however they may hide from their own eyes their guilt and danger, God’s decree is irreversible, and his threatened vengeance shall assuredly be executed upon them.]
But, notwithstanding the danger to which sinners are exposed, the text informs us of,
II. The blessed state to which they may yet be exalted by the Gospel—
Many of the Corinthians had, while in their heathen state, been guilty of all the abominations mentioned in the text. But at their conversion,
1. They were received into the Christian covenant—
[The word “washed” seems, to refer to their initiation into the Christian Church by the ordinance of baptism; and therefore imports, that they had been admitted into the Christian covenant. We indeed, at our conversion, are not to repeat the rite of baptism; because the baptism administered to us in our infancy was in all respects as available for us as circumcision was for the Jews; yet, since we are brought only into the outward bond of the covenant in our baptism, we need to be made partakers of its saving benefits: and, however abandoned we may have been in our unregenerate state, we shall be received to a full participation of its blessings, as soon as ever we repent and believe in Christ.]
2. “They were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus”—
[Justification includes not merely a remission of sins, but a being dealt with, by God as innocent persons, or, in other words, an exaltation to eternal happiness and glory. Now this the Corinthians enjoyed as soon as they embraced the Gospel. They were not left to expect it after death: it was already vouchsafed unto them. For the sake of Christ all their sins were blotted out as a morning cloud. And we also, as soon as we “believe in him, shall, for his sake, be justified from all things,” however abominable our past lives may have been, and however much we may have deserved to be abhorred both by God and man.]
3. “They were sanctified by the Spirit of our God”—
[The Apostle, speaking in the fulness of his heart, did not observe any particular order in the arrangement of his words; and therefore no conclusion is to be drawn from the order of them: for, in strictness of speech, our sanctification does not precede, but follows, and flows from, our justification. But what a triumph of Divine grace was here! these people, who had been sunk beneath the very beasts by their iniquities, were renewed by the Holy Ghost, and transformed into the image of their God. Surely then none of us need despair! Whatever we have been, or whatever we may yet be, we still may look to that Divine Agent, who will renew and sanctify us wholly, provided we seek his operations in the name, and for the sake, of Jesus Christ.]
1. To those who are yet living in sin—
[Is there a person here, who, whether openly or in secret, gives way to uncleanness? Thou “shalt never inherit the kingdom of God.” Is there a person here who corresponds in any respect with those described in the text? Does not thy conscience tell thee, Thou must perish? If thou hast bribed, or silenced thy conscience, “deceive not thyself;” for God’s word shall stand, whether thou believe it or not. Hear this, thou whoremonger, thou adulterer, &c. &c. In the name of Almighty God I declare, Thou shalt never inherit the kingdom of God, unless thou repent, and believe in Christ. Let me entreat thee seriously to consider thy guilt and danger, while there is a way of escape yet opened to thee by the Gospel.]
2. To those who have experienced pardon and sanctification by the Gospel—
[It will be always profitable for you to bear in mind what you once were: for though your actions may not have been so abominable as those referred to in the text, none of you have any right to cast a stone at others; seeing that the seeds of all evils are in your own hearts, and nothing but the preventing grace of God has made you to differ from your more abandoned neighbour. What cause have you then to magnify and adore that grace which has so distinguished you; and to “love much, from a sense of having had so much forgiven!”
Well also may a recollection of the many talents that have been forgiven you, incline you readily to forgive the pence that may be owing to you by an offending brother. It is particularly in this view that the text is introduced by the Apostle, and in this view it certainly ought to be improved. Get but a just sense of the mercies vouchsafed to you in the pardon of your sins by the blood of Jesus, and the renovation of your natures by the Holy Ghost, and you will esteem nothing too much to do for God, and no forbearance too great to exercise towards the most unworthy of mankind.]
THE DUTY OF DEVOTING OURSELVES TO GOD
1 Corinthians 6:19-20. What? know ye not that ……ye are not your own? for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
THE word of God reveals to us many things which unenlightened reason could never have discovered. This is particularly manifest with respect to the offices of Christ and of the Holy Spirit. These were “mysteries hid in God from the foundation of the world;” but they are supposed to be well known to every true Christian; indeed they form the basis of the Christian’s hope; and they at the same time afford him his strongest motives to obedience. St. Paul was dissuading the Corinthians from the sin of fornication: he reminded them therefore of the principles which they professed. We wave what he says respecting the Spirit dwelling in them, and shall confine ourselves to the words of our text.
We shall consider,
I. The principle which the Apostle assumes—
All men naturally think they are “their own”—
[Men employ their time and faculties nearly as they please [Note: Isaiah 53:6.]. They think themselves at liberty so to do [Note: Jeremiah 23:17.]. Hence the language of their hearts is declared by the Psalmist [Note: Psalms 12:4.]—Their conduct, if not their speech, resembles that of Pharaoh [Note: Exodus 5:2.]—]
But no man is or can be his own—
[Men may be free from any human yoke; but no man is or can be independent of God. This is a principle even of natural religion.]
This every Christian is supposed to know—
[The manner in which the Apostle assumes this principle is remarkable. His question is a direct appeal to our consciences; he takes it for granted that no one can be ignorant of that truth; he expresses surprise that such a truth should be forgotten.]
Indeed this principle cannot admit a doubt. This appears from considering,
II. The argument he urges in support of it—
God, as our Creator, has an unalienable right over us—
[We possess not a faculty of body or mind but from him [Note: 1 Corinthians 4:7.]. We cannot exercise one faculty but by virtue derived from him [Note: 2 Corinthians 3:5.]. We therefore can be no other than his property.]
But he has also redeemed us—
[We were in bondage to the curse of the law [Note: Galatians 3:10.], but God has redeemed us from this miserable state [Note: Galatians 3:13.]. He paid no less a price for us than the blood of his own Son [Note: 1 Peter 1:18-19.].]
By this he has acquired a further right over us—
[The great end of redemption was “that we might live unto God.” The Scriptures speak of redemption in this light [Note: 1 Peter 3:18. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. John 17:19.]. Thus our obligation to devote ourselves unreservedly to God is greatly increased and confirmed by it. If God complain of us for requiting with neglect his paternal care [Note: Isaiah 1:2-3.], how much more may he, for our contempt of redeeming love!]
The principle being thus established, we proceed to consider,
III. The exhortation he founds upon it—
“Our body and our spirit are entirely God’s” property. We are bound therefore to glorify him with both to the uttermost—
[We cannot indeed add any thing to God’s glory [Note: Psalms 16:2.]. God however esteems himself glorified by our services [Note: Psalms 50:23.]. There are many ways in which we may glorify him daily. A devotedness to him is justly called “our reasonable service [Note: Romans 12:1.].”]
Let the exhortation then have its due effect—
[God claims every one of us as his own. Let us not then live as though we were at our own disposal; let us adopt the resolution of Joshua [Note: Joshua 24:15.]—let us yield to him all the members of our bodies [Note: Romans 6:13.]; let us glorify him with every faculty of our souls [Note: Psalms 103:1.]; let us never disjoin what was so connected in Paul’s experience [Note: Acts 27:23.]; let us seek to have that inspired declaration fulfilled in us [Note: Romans 14:7-8.]—]
We may see from hence,
1. What lamentable ignorance prevails in the Christian, world!
[Many are daily violating their baptismal vows without remorse. Though educated in the faith of Christ, they give not themselves to him. This may well be a matter of surprise to thoughtful minds. It justly excited the feelings of David [Note: Psalms 119:53.]. Let us beg of God to convince us of the evil of such conduct; let us turn from it with self-lothing and self-abhorrence [Note: Ezekiel 36:31.].]
2. How reasonable and delightful is the Christian’s duty!
[What more reasonable than that we should be his who bought us? And what so delightful as to be ever glorifying God? This constitutes the felicity of the perfected saints and angels. We should never be unhappy here if we abounded more in this duty. Let us know, then, and enjoy our inestimable privilege. To have honoured God here, will be our crown hereafter.]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany