Summary: What caused Paul to write, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. . ."?
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. "Who’s going to be in heaven?" Have you ever wondered about that? Have you ever wondered whether or not you’ll be in heaven? Just what kind of people do you suppose are going to be there?
Now, of course, I’ve always thought that the people in heaven would be a whole lot like me, handsome & polite & humble. But how about you? What kind of people do you suppose will be there? Maybe what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 6, will help us answer that question. Listen as I read vs’s 9 & 10.
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."
B. Now you need to understand what kind of city Corinth was. It was a major seaport in the N.T. world, overflowing with sailors from many nations, & that should tell you a lot about Corinth.
It was also a popular tourist spot because its main attraction was the Temple of Aphrodite, goddess of sex. And the way to worship Aphrodite was by participating in sex with one of the more than 1,000 temple prostitutes.
As a result, Corinth was probably one of the most pagan, most decadent cities of the 1st Century world, & sin ran rampant in its streets. Yet God was able to use Paul to establish a strong & growing church there that was making inroads into the very pagan society of Corinth.
PROP. So when Paul wrote the words of vs. 9, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived..." what do you suppose caused him to do it? Were the people there concerned about who was going to be in heaven, too?
I. MAYBE WE’RE LIVING IN A MODERN-DAY CORINTH
A. It may very well be that Paul was facing a situation not much different than what we’re facing when it comes to considering heaven & hell.
Today we seem to have the hope or feeling that when someone dies, death will somehow make a transformation of that person. Even though he or she was a scalawag in life, we seek to comfort ourselves by acting as if we think that person will end up in heaven with God for all eternity.
In fact, I’ve never attended a funeral where the preacher said anything like, "This man was one of the most immoral & dishonest persons who ever walked the streets of our town, & he’ll spend eternity burning in hell." I’ve never experienced a funeral like that.
But I have attended funerals that bothered me because I feared that the deceased had gone to hell. But most of the people there obviously didn’t think that. They seemed to think that at death their friend or relative just suddenly had been transported to heaven.
ILL. A preacher I know was called very early one Sunday morning by a member of his church, asking him to go & tell his sister that her husband had just been killed in an auto accident.
The man who had died & his wife were not members of his church, but her brother couldn’t get hold of their minister, so he asked his own preacher to go & break the news to her. So at around 2:00 in the morning this preacher went to tell her of her husband’s death. It was not until the next day that the preacher learned that the accident had occurred while the man was rushing home from having spent most of the night with his current mistress.
Well, the preacher went to the funeral, & heard the man’s minister preach him right into heaven. He lifted him up as a pillar in the community, a man of integrity & honesty & with great faith. He said he was just sure that this man was now walking side by side with Jesus on the streets of gold.
Can that be true? Will death just instantly work its transforming power, & all of us, regardless of how we have lived here, end up in heaven?
I think not, because Paul says, "Don’t be deceived. The wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God." Then he goes on to become very specific, listing 10 sins that will disqualify one from heaven. Maybe people today need to pay attention to what Paul is saying.
B. The first 5 sins Paul mentions seem to be closely related, & they all deal with sexual immorality & perversion. Of course, that should be no surprise when we think about what kind of town Corinth was. But I’m afraid that our nation is now rapidly becoming a modern-day Corinth.