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Thursday, August 25, 2022

No Inheritance in The Kingdom of God – Part II

This is a continuation of an article I started awhile back on Paul’s statements that those practicing certain sins would not inherit the kingdom of God.  As a text I used three  passages as follows:

1 Cor. 6:9-10

Gal. 5:19-21

Eph. 5:5-7

 

“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 homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1Cor.  6:9-10 NKJV)

 

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,

idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21 NKJV)

 

“For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.” (Eph. 5:5-7 NKJV)

As is evident I used the New King James Version of the Bible (underlining by me - DS).  The first two sins mentioned by Paul in Galatians – adultery and fornication – were covered in my first article.

Some of the sins listed can be grouped together due to the features they share.  Uncleanness, lewdness, homosexuals, and sodomites all relate to sexual sin in part or altogether.  All involve sexual immorality.  Why list them at all then since Paul has already given us the umbrella term “fornication” (translated “sexual immorality” in modern versions) under which term they could all be sheltered? 

We can only speculate on that as we are not told.  I think it likely that when we use terms that can be broadly interpreted there can be some danger that we will miss the mark in our understanding.  For example, in my last article I talked about sexual immorality.  There is a bit of a problem.  Sexual immorality has to be defined.  Where do you draw the line; what is sexually immoral and what is not?  I thought about listing a large number of such sins, not just from my own thinking but from reading others (commentaries, etc.).  I hesitated and did not do it.  Why not?

Paul said in Ephesians 5:12, “It is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.”(NKJV)  So, did I want to dare to be so specific and graphic in light of what Paul told the Ephesians?  No, I felt it best to just be general and leave it at “sexual immorality.”  But, again, the danger is a person may not be aware of their specific sin when one is so general in such broad declarations.  Things may be excluded that ought to be included.

My speculation, that is all it is, says that perhaps Paul did at times get specific in naming sins that could have been closeted under a more general term not wanting to take the chance that some sins would be overlooked if not explicitly mentioned.  Sometimes we need to be told straight up that what we are engaged in is sin, no guessing or wondering about it.

I begin today’s discussion with the sins of homosexuality and sodomy.  Paul says neither homosexuals nor sodomites will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10 NKJV).  Instead of using those two terms the Christian Standard Bible says, “males who have sex with males” and both the English Standard Bible and the New International Version have footnotes that are similar.  The NIV footnote says, “The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts.”

The Bible knows nothing about homosexual marriage which is solely an invention of sinful mankind and a very, very recent invention at that.  Man cannot invent a right in order to circumvent God’s condemnation and think that if God exists they will get by with it eternally.  Kick sand in God’s face and see what happens when his patience is exhausted and you face him in judgment.  God never gave man the authority to overrule his decrees.

The next term is uncleanness.  What is uncleanness?  It is hard to find any commentator on this term who will actually define it with any specificity.  It is another broad inclusive term.  We can only do our best.  We know uncleanness is a work of the flesh from our Galatian passage and that an unclean person has no inheritance in the kingdom of God from the Ephesian passage.

By comparing other Bible translations we learn that the Greek word behind the English word “unclean” can be translated as “impure.” The Christian Standard Bible translates in Gal. 5:19 using the phrase “moral impurity” and in Eph. 5:5 with just the word “impure.”  The English Standard Bible in Eph. 5:5 uses the word “impure” and in Gal. 5:19 the word “impurity.”  The New International Version, the New American Standard Bible 2020, and the New Living Translation all do the same thing.  So, the question arises as to what makes one impure (unclean).

If we were living under the Law of Moses (the Old Testament) it would be easy to name many things that made one unclean, things that separated from God until cleansing took place, but we now live under the new covenant sanctified by the blood of Christ.  So how about for us living today? 

We can get an idea from Ezra 9:11 where we read, “The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity.” (Ezra  9:11 NKJV)  Ezra is going back in time here referencing the days long gone by when the children of Israel were told to enter the promised land and drive out the inhabitants (destroy them).  What kind of uncleanness had those inhabitants practiced?

Idolatry was perhaps the most egregious sin but there was far more to their idolatry than just a spiritual devotion to an idol.  It often involved what one commentary said was “little else than sexual orgies with a religious scenario,” there were male and female temple prostitutes, and there was offering as burnt sacrifices their own sons and daughters.  They were involved in witchcraft, soothsaying, interpreting omens, sorcery, mediums, etc.  You can find a listing of these things in Deuteronomy 18:9-14 and another listing with regards to the general immorality as related to sexual sin in Leviticus 18.  Leviticus 18:27 reads, “For all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled” thus unclean. (Lev. 18:27 NKJV)  When one reads the word “defile” in his/her Bible we immediately understand we are talking about uncleanness.

One can conclude that anything related to idolatry would make one unclean in God’s eyes, the only eyes that matter.  Would the same apply to false worship or false doctrine?  I am not the judge of where such things begin and end, where the exact line is to be drawn, but it seems the wise man or woman would want to stay as far away from any kind of false religion as possible including within Christendom when one finds it. 

One can also say any kind of sexual immorality being practiced would make one unclean.  In fact, uncleanness is such a general term that one could say almost any and every sin one would practice would make one impure or unclean.  If not, why not?

Jesus said, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.  These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man." (Matt. 15:18-20 NKJV)  This would seem to me to be a listing of things that would make one unclean or impure.  If you are defiled you are unclean.  Again, one is led to the conclusion that uncleanness is a broad all-encompassing term for any and all sin that is practiced.

I would suggest that a person find any listing of sins in his/her New Testament, go down the list, and ask themselves with each sin listed “if I did this thing would it keep me pure (clean) or would it make me impure and unclean?  That is probably as good a way as any of deciding what is clean versus what is not.  Is the thing I am contemplating doing leading me to holiness?

I will close the comments on uncleanness with this from 2 Cor. 6:17 where Paul quotes from the Old Testament and applies it to the present.  “Therefore ‘come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’" (2Cor. 6:17 NKJV)  God wants us to be holy and undefiled by the world, separate from the world, and certainly separate from idolatry in whatever form it might take.  We need to live pure and holy lives.

The last sin to be dealt with in this essay is that of “lewdness.”  Lewdness is the word used in the New King James Version of the Bible from e-sword but I have an evidently older version of the New King James Version New Testament that uses the word licentiousness.  The old King James Version uses the word lasciviousness.  Other modern-day versions translate using words like promiscuity (CSB), sensuality (ESV, NASB), indecent behavior (NAS20), depravity (NET), debauchery (NIV), and lustful pleasures (NLT).  The online dictionary at dictionary.com says for lewdness, “indecency or obscenity; vulgar sexual character or behavior.”

We generally think of lewdness as being sexual and obscene in a public way by one’s behavior and/or dress or lack thereof.  However, one can be lewd in non-sexual ways.  You cannot use the public streets and walkways as your toilet as is reported about some in San Francisco without being lewd.  You cannot be loud and vulgar in your speech and behavior in public.  You cannot live without respect for others round about you in your conduct.

Jesus, in Mark 7:20-23, says lewdness defiles a man (V. 22 NKJV).  Paul says we are to walk properly, not in lewdness and lust (Rom. 13:13).  He says there were some in Corinth that had not repented of their lewdness (2 Cor. 12:21).  In Ephesians speaking of the Gentiles he says they “have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Eph. 4:19 NKJV)  Lewdness here is associated with uncleanness as it was with lust in the Roman passage.  The point is that the scriptures clearly condemn such a way of life.  There is no inheritance for those who fail to repent of this sin.

There is a word of caution here in defining lewdness.  We get so used to things the way they are we become immune to them, take them for granted, and think no more about them.  I have in mind the way so many young women especially, but sometimes older women as well, dress.  Have you ever wondered about what God thinks about short shorts worn out in public?  It may not be lewdness for us for we have become so used to such things but how does God see it?  I wonder how such dress would have gone over among Christians living in the first century.  I think I know.  For that matter how would our great grandparents have felt about it?  We must consider God in every aspect of our lives first and foremost.  We cannot let modern-day life scar us over to the point we become like the world and think and behave as they do.  We need to see things the way God does.

This brings this article to a close.  When I started out on this project I had no idea it would take this much time, effort, and space but like the tortoise we will keep at it as long as we can and as long as the Lord wills and hopefully get it done.  The goal is to define every term that Paul says will deny us an inheritance from the passages chosen.

[To download this article or print it out click here.]

 

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