Don’t Be Deceived

I Corinthians 6

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
January 2024

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (I Corinthians 6:9-11 NASB)

We are studying the Book of I Corinthians.  Today, we come to a very important passage.  Today, you are going to hear some things you don’t normally hear in church.

We are going to be looking at a controversial passage.  It is a passage that many hate.  They despise it.  Some call is a clobber passage.  It is not a clobber passage, just part of the Word of God.

Paul uses some strong language here.  He is not politically correct.  He is not woke.  What he says is diametrically opposed to mainstream culture.  It completely contradicts what we are told in the world.

It is a passage that is extremely relevant to the day in which we live.  It is shocking how relevant it is to our day.

It is a radical passage.  It is so radical that it has even become a crime to say some of the things that Paul says here.

Did you know that in 2010 a Christian in Britain named Dale McAlpine was arrested in Britain for simply saying that homosexuality is a sin?[1]

Just saying that was considered a hate crime and yet Alpine said it in public.  He was a street preacher.  He claimed in court he was wrongfully arrested and was awarded seven thousand British pounds (about $9,000).

It happened again in England in 2023.  This time with an American preacher named Ryan Schiavo.  He was arrested for reading the Bible and evangelizing during a LGBT Pride Event.[2]

The charges ended up being dropped but it shows you the attitude of society to criminalize simply calling something a sin or just reading the Bible in public.

If you live in Canada, you can’t do conversion therapy.  It is illegal.  You can’t tell anyone what the Bible says about homosexuality.  It is called the Gay Conversion Bill which was passed in 2021.

Three Kinds of Deception

Our passage begins with a strong exhortation.  The Apostle Paul exhorts the Corinthians.  It is an exhortation about deception.  Today, we are going to talk about deception.

Jesus said, “Do not be deceived.”  Paul said, “Do not be deceived.”  Why do they say that?  Deception is a real problem in our world today.  We live in a world full of all kinds of deception.

There is political deception all over the place. There is moral deception.  There is religious deception.  Many are deceived today in the area of sexuality and gender.

The one behind the deception is Satan.  In Revelation 12:9, we learn that the Devil is the one who deceives the whole world (NKJV).

We are going to look at several forms of deception based on this text.  There is the deception that sin is not sin.  There is the deception that people are too bad to be saved.  They are too wicked.  There’s no hope.

There is the deception that everyone is going to heaven and there is the deception that it doesn’t matter how you live.  All of those ideas are addressed in these three verses.

Deception about Sin

The first way to be deceived today is to be deceived about sin.  This is a problem today.  It is a big problem.  Many have no idea what sin is.  They have no concept of sin.  If it feels good, do it.  If society says it is okay, it is.

What God says is okay and what the world says is okay are two completely different things.  The Bible says that God’s thoughts are NOT our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

The things that God hates and calls sin, the world thinks are virtues.  God says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20 NIV)

In fact, Jesus said, “What is HIGHLY ESTEEMED among men is DETESTABLE in God’s sight” (Luke 16:15-16).

That is interesting.  Jesus does not just say that God thinks differently than we do.  He says the things that we highly esteem and think are great, He hates.

The things that the world loves, God hates.  He can’t stand them.  He thinks they are detestable.

There is a sin list in this passage.  Paul gives us a vice list.  He gives us a list of ten sins.  It is Paul’s top ten list.   It is not a complete list of the wicked.

There are all kinds of wicked people not on this list.  Rapists and serial killers are not on the list.  Child molesters are not on the list.  This is just a sample.

As we look at the list, we find that most of the sins on the list are legal.  They are socially acceptable.  Some are popular.  They are not considered wrong today.

They do not seem that bad.  They are esteemed.  They are almost exalted in society.  They are considered hip.  They are considered cool. Many of the things on his list are not regarded as wrong today.

Homosexuality is acceptable today. We are told people are born that way and that it is natural and cannot even be changed.

We have gone from making homosexuality a sin or an abomination to honoring it with Gay Pride celebrations).  It has gone from sin to a sacrament.

Fornication is not seen as a sin today.  Immorality is common today.  It seems like everyone is doing it.

Greed is not seen as a sin today.  It is part of the American Dream.

Drunkenness is not seen as a sin today but as a disease.  It is just a sickness.

This is a passage that mentions ten different kinds of sinners.  Apparently, there are different types of sins and different types of sinners.  These ten sinners make up five different categories.

Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers.

These sins are very different.  Some involve sex.  Some do not.  Some involve violence.  Some do not.

Some involve outward actions.  Some just involve thoughts.  Covetous is a sin of the mind.  It is a sin of thoughts, like hatred.  Let’s look at these five categories.

1) There are SEXUAL SINS

Many think that sexual sins are not a big deal.  Paul mentioned them first.  Moral sins were the first category of the unrighteous.

The majority of the sins on Paul’s list were sexual. Four of the ten sins on this list are sexual sins (fornicators, adulterers, effeminate and homosexuals).

Paul mentions all kinds of sexual sin.  He mentions homosexual sin.  He mentions heterosexual sin.  He mentions sexual sin in married people.  He mentions sexual sin in the unmarried.

First on the list is πόρνοι (fornicators).  We get the word “pornography” from that word.  The pornography that we see today did not exist in the first century.

Sexual sin is something that exists in our world and is worse today than it was in Paul’s day.  The big debate is over homosexuality.  We will deal with this at the end but Paul says several things about homosexuality.  What does he say?

In Romans, he says it is unnatural.  Read Romans 1.  It goes against nature.  It is unnatural.  It is immoral.  It is a sin.  Paul puts it on a sin list.  He says it keeps people out of heaven.  It keeps them out of the kingdom.  He also says it is a sin that can be saved.  It can be redeemed, like any other sin.

According to Paul, you can not only be saved but you can be cleansed from that sin.  You can be washed.    He also says that those who commit this sin can change.  He says, “such were some of you.”  They were no longer homosexuals after they became Christians.

2) There are SANCTUARY SINS

Category two is sins of worship.  Paul mentions idolatry.  Idolatry is false worship.  It means worshipping a false god and it comes in many different forms.  It is not limited to worshipping sticks and stones.

These are sins of the heart.  idolatry is a heart sin.  It is what you put first in your life.  It is interesting that “idolaters” is found between the word “fornicators” and “adulterers.”

Sex can be an idol in people’s lives.  The sexually immoral person is an idolater.  Immorality comes first in their life, and they do not care what God or the Bible says.

There was also a connection between sex and idolatry in the ancient world.  Most fornication took place at the temple.  It was part of pagan worship.  That was the way they worshipped.

Idolatry is not a little sin.  It is a big sin.  We need to watch out for it in our own lives.  Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21 KJV).  John tells that to Christians.

3) There are STEALING SINS

Category three is money sins.  It deals with money.  Paul speaks of the covetous, thieves, and swindlers.

Paul gives two different words for stealing (robbers and extortioners). Why are there two different words?  There are different kinds of thieves.  Not all take things violently.  Not every thief has a gun.

The greedy do not necessarily take other people’s possessions but they want to.  Their sin is internal.  They are thieves at heart.  They make a god out of wealth.  Paul said that greed is a form of idolatry (Ephesians 5:5).

Some of the Corinthians were greedy.  They were cheating and ripping off their own brothers and sisters in court and they were motivated by greed.  We saw that in the beginning of the chapter.

One of the apostles was guilty of this sin.  Judas was a thief (John 12:4-6).  He was the treasurer.  He carried the money bag.  He wanted the expensive perfume sold, not poured on Jesus’ feet, so he could get some of the money.

4) There are SPEECH SINS

Category four is speech sins or sins of the tongue.  He mentions “revilers” (KJV) or “slanderers” (NIV).  They don’t steal other people’s stuff.  They do not sleep around.

They just have foul mouths.  They are vulgar.  They are abusive.  They insult people.  They mock people.  They lie about people.  They blaspheme God.  They blaspheme the Bible.

We think nothing of it today.  We call it “free speech.”  God calls it sin.  He takes it seriously.  He takes words seriously.

Jesus said that men will give an account on the day of judgment of every idle word that they say (Matthew 12:36).  That is a terrifying thought.

If we are going to give an account of every idle word, how much more every abusive word?  How much more will we give an account for every hateful and hurtful word we have uttered?

5) There are SUBSTANCE ABUSE SINS

Category five deals with substance abuse or addictions.

Paul doesn’t say that everyone who drinks alcohol is excluded from the kingdom.  That would mean that Jesus was excluded.  He drank wine.

The Bible only condemns drunkenness.  Paul said in Ephesians “Don’t be drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit.”  He did not say “do not drink wine but be filled with the Spirit.”

Paul is not talking about occasional drinkers.  He is not talking about people who drink in moderation.  He is talking about drunkards.  He is talking about people who drink to excess.

He is talking about people who become addicted to alcohol.  He is talking about people who make a god out of alcohol.  It completely controls them.  They put it first in their life.

Deception about Heaven

Now, we come to the second big deception.  It is about heaven.  The world says that everyone is going to heaven.  That is the doctrine of universalism.  It teaches that everyone will be saved.

The Bible teaches that some will enter the kingdom, and some will not. Some will possess the kingdom, and some will be excluded. Some will inherit the kingdom, and some will not.  Some will go to Heaven and some will go to Hell.

Paul did not just say this once.  He said it three times.  He says it in I Corinthians 6.  He says it in Ephesians 5.  He says it in Galatians 5.  He has a long list of sins and says those who do this will not inherit the kingdom.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NIV)

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them. (Ephesians 5:5-7 NIV)

Many in the LGTB community hate I Corinthians 6, because it says that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom.

We have gay churches today.  We have gay denominations.  We have gay ministers and yet Paul says that they will not inherit the kingdom.

The Bible says that they will not go to heaven.  Paul does not say they will not get any rewards in heaven.  He says that they will not be there.  These are not my words.  I did not write them.  These are God’s Words.

You say that sounds a little harsh.  Was Paul homophobic?  Calling a particular activity or behavior sinful is not the same thing as hating anyone.

Paul says that a lot of heterosexuals will NOT be in heaven either.  He does not just single out homosexuals. He says the same thing about adulterers and fornicators.

Hebrews 13:4 says, “fornicators and adulterers, God will judge” (NKJV).

Can you be a gay Christian?   No.  Homosexuals cannot inherit the kingdom.  We can no more have gay Christians than we can have Christian idolaters, Christian fornicators, or Christian adulterers.  That is an oxymoron.

Deception about Salvation

Let’s look at the third deception found in our text.  It is a deception about salvation.  It comes in two forms.

1) No Hope of Salvation

Some think that are too wicked to be saved.  God could never forgive them.  God says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18 NIV)

The Bible teaches that any sinner can be saved.  Fornicators can be saved.  Adulterers can be saved.  Murderers can be saved.

Crackheads can be saved.  Homosexuals can be saved.  Child molesters can be saved.  Prostitutes can be saved.

Some of the members of the Corinthian Church were former homosexuals. Some were former adulterers. Some were former idolaters.  Some used to be fornicators and they were in the Corinthian Church.

2) False Hope of Salvation

Many think they are saved who are not.  Many people think that they are going to heaven.  They have been baptized.  They go to church every Sunday, but they are not going to heaven.

There is a heresy today called the free grace doctrine.  Free grace theology takes repentance out of the gospel.  It says that you can live any way you want.

It doesn’t matter how you live, because you are going to go to heaven anyway.  You can live like the devil, according to this teaching.

Paul would say that you are just deceiving yourself. The wicked will not inherit the kingdom.  James says that faith without works is dead.

I believe in eternal security but many who think they have eternal security are not even saved.

Jesus said that on the last day many will call him Lord, claim to be believers, and He will tell them that He never knew them (Matthew 7:21-23).  Some just use salvation as an excuse to sin.

Paul says to the Corinthians, “and such WERE some of you” (I Corinthians 6:11 NIV). That is who they WERE (past tense).

Paul does not write to homosexual Christians in Corinth.  “He addresses former homosexuals who were now Christians.” [3]

They did not become Christians and continue as homosexuals or fornicators or idolaters or adulterers.

This shows the power of the gospel. This refutes the idea that “once gay always gay” or “once an alcoholic always an alcoholic.”  This refutes the idea that sexual orientation can’t change.

Now Christians are not sinless, and they can fall into sin.  David committed adultery and murder and Noah got drunk, but true Christians will not live in sin.  They will not continue in sin without repentance.

Salvation produces real change. The Bible teaches that when you get saved, there is a change in your life.

There will be a radical change, as you go from darkness to light.  If you claim to be a Christian but there is absolutely no change in your life after you claim to come to Christ, you are not saved.

Notice the three buts in I Corinthians 6:11. There are some big buts in this passage.

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 (I Corinthians 6:11 KJV).

Notice the three things that happen at salvation. All Christians are washed.  They are sanctified and they are justified.  They are not perfect, but they are washed, sanctified and justified.

They are not made sinless, but they are cleansed.  Why do they need to be cleansed?  Because they are dirty.  We get a bath at salvation.  We are spiritually washed.  We are made right with God, and we are made holy.

Paul on Homosexuality

The big debate in this section is over what Paul said about homosexuality.  Many say that they love Jesus but hate Paul.  He says that homosexuals cannot enter the kingdom.  He uses two Greek words for homosexuality.

What he said is hated by many.  His words have been misunderstood throughout history and have been abused today by the LGTB community.

Critics say that Paul wrote in Greek. He never once used the word “homosexual” in his list of sins. That is true.  Paul wrote in Greek, not English.  Homosexual is an English word.

The word was first coined in the 19th century.  It didn’t even show up in English translations of the Bible until 1946.

However, just because the English word for “homosexual” began in the nineteenth century does not mean that the practice started in the nineteenth century.

It existed in the ancient world.  Paul used other Greek words to refer to the practice (effeminate and homosexual).  There have been some ridiculous interpretations of these words.

Some have held that these words refer to masturbation and that keeps you out of the kingdom.

The old Baptist scholar John Gill, who lived in the 18th century, believed that it was a reference to masturbation.[4]

Others have held that “abusers of themselves with mankind (KJV) is also a reference to self-abuse.

However, Paul says nothing about masturbation in this verse.  There were many different Greek words for masturbation in ancient Greece (δέφειν, δέφεσθαι, χειρουργειν, ναφλᾶν, ποτυλοῦν, ποσκολὐπτειν, ναφλὐστηρ)[5]  None of those words were used by Paul.  What does μαλακός and ἀρσενοκοίτης actually mean?

Effeminate

The Greek word used by Paul is μαλακός.  The word μαλακός literally means “soft.”  It is used four times in the NT (I Corinthians 6:9; Matthew 11:8 [2]; Luke 7:25).

It is used once in I Corinthians and twice in the Gospels.  In the Gospels, it is used of CLOTHES that are soft.  In I Corinthians, it is used of PEOPLE who are soft.

The word “effeminate” refers to a man who one who has rejected his masculinity.  He rejects his God-given identity as a man.

This is a man who acts like a woman.  He may put on make-up or wear women’s clothes.  He may try to turn himself into a woman through surgery.

We live in a day when there is a war on masculinity.  People talk about toxic masculinity, and you can see how relevant this is.  However, Paul is not just talking about a weakling or a sissy.

The word is used in a sexual sense.  The word μαλακός is linked or paired with homosexuals in the text.

Sex involves two people.  The Greeks distinguished between the active and passive roles in a homosexual relationship.

A consensus of NT scholars believe Paul is talking about active and passive homosexuality here.  That is the view of NT Wright, F.F. Bruce, C.K. Barrett, Joseph Fitzmyer, Anthony Thiselton and others. [6]

The person in the dominant role was considered more masculine.  The passive partner in a homosexual relationship was considered effeminate (so Philo).[7]

The Greek word μαλακός can refer to this passive partner.  That is documented from the standard Greek lexicons (e.g. Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich).

Paul is not talking about an abusive situation.  He is talking about someone who chooses to do it and allows it to be done.  He is not talking about someone who is forced to do it against his will.

Homosexuals

The word used here is ἀρσενοκοίτης.  It is only used two times in the NT (I Corinthians 6:9; I Timothy 1:10).

It is a compound Greek word.  It is the combination of the word for BED (κοῖτης) and the word for MALES (ἄρσην).

It means a man who goes to bed with another man.  Paul coined the term.  Where did he get it?  It comes right out of Leviticus.

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination (Leviticus 20:13 ESV).

In fact, the LXX reads ἄρσενος κοίτην.  These are the same two words that Paul uses in I Corinthians 6:9).

Critics argue that Paul is not condemning all homosexuality.  He is only condemning pedophiles.  He is only condemning child abusers.

The problem with that view is that Paul does not use the word παῖς.  He mentions the word “bed” and the word “males.”  He does NOT mention the word “bed” and “boys” or “children.”

Others try to limit the word to prostitution (Boswell) but there is nothing in the word that indicates that meaning.  It simply means a man who goes to bed with another man.

[1] https://original.religlaw.org/index.php?pageId=25&linkId=160&contentId=1653&blurbId=868

[2] https://www2.cbn.com/news/world/cop-reportedly-arrests-street-preacher-reading-bible-evangelizing-during-lgbt-pride

[3] James R. White & Jeffrey D. Niell, The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message About Homosexuality, p. 131

[4] https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/1-corinthians-6-9.html.  Cf. Richard A.. Abingdon New Testament Commentaries: 1 Corinthians (p. 85). Abingdon  Press. Kindle Edition; New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967),  http://healingreligion.com/PS2010/html/new_catholic_encyclopedia_masturbation.htm

[5] Hans Licht, Sexual Life in Ancient Greece (London, 1932), p. 313.

[6] Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 449.

[7]Philo, Special Laws III.7. 39-41.

 

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