Tuesday 21 December 2010

I like big BUTS (and I cannot lie) - 1 Corinthians 6:11

But you were washed,
(But) you were sanctified,
(But) you were justified
in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:11

It’s covered up in the NIV - as well as most translations (except the King James) - but it’s there. Three big buts. Three great blessings.

1. But you were washed
Chapters 5 and 6 speak of sin. Gross sin. There’s sexual perversion to the degree that even non-Christians wouldn’t tolerate. Brother took brother to the law courts over petty arguments.

Homosexuality, adultery, drunkards, cheats. Paul wasn’t talking about pagans. He says, “That’s what some of you were.” He was describing Christians.

But you were washed. There is the great turning point.

Does your conscience ever keep you up at night? “Why did I do that stupid thing... again!” Some people struggle with guilt for years and years. It cripples you. It robs you of peace.

To be washed from your sins is to be clean. Spotlessly clean. To be forgiven. I look out at the glorious snow blanketing the whole of Cambridge this evening and remember the words of King David in Psalm 51 - confessing his sin before God and saying “wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Christians are sinners. Just like the world. But unlike the world, Christians are forgiven sinners. They have been washed. They are clean.

2. But you were sanctified
I find it amazing that Paul doesn’t talk about sin in terms of right and wrong. Instead he frames his arguments in terms of what is true and what is false.

Do not be deceived - he says in verse 9. In other words, sin is a lie. It is lie that takes us in. Sin says it doesn’t matter what I do, how I act, what I think, how I react.

And twice Paul says, those who live in sin will not inherit the kingdom of God. Christians know of this ultimate reality. The world doesn’t. But it is there. And we ignore it to our peril.

So when he says, but you were sanctified - he is reminding Christians who they are in Christ. Holy. That’s what the word sanctified means. It means holy. You belong to God’s kingdom. You belong to God.

3. But you were justified
Those who want to sin are always eager to argue for their right to sin. The perverse situation in Corinth wasn’t simply that there was sin within the church, but that the church tolerated sin. They were even proud of these sins.

It is worth pointing out: Paul’s condemnation is towards the church as a whole, not so much the individual. Oh, he does pronounce judgement on the sexually immoral man (5:3). And he warns the swindler who has cheated his brother in Christ.

But he always moves on to the community as a whole. They are responsible for these individuals. For they have the gospel. And they should know better.

But you were justified, Paul says - in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.

To be justified is to be accepted by God. Not because of anything we have done or could ever do. We are accepted and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is the blood sacrifice and violent death of Jesus Christ on the cross that pays the price for my acceptance before God. And that I am. I look to the cross, I see my sin and shame on him. I receive his righteous and acceptance.

It is sad when Christians sin. Yet sadder still, is the Christian who forgets there is forgiveness at the cross. We are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  
1 John 1:8-9

1 comment:

Langsta Da Gangsta said...

Very good reminder to Christians Calvin, and eye-opening for non-Christians :)