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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

No Inheritance in The Kingdom of God – Part III

This is now the third article in a series on sins of which the apostle Paul, speaking by means of the Holy Spirit, says will deny one an inheritance in the kingdom of God if practiced.  Of course, one can quit the practice of a sin and repent of it but to continue on in any of these sins without repentance is to be condemned.

In Part I of the series the sins of adultery and fornication were dealt with.  In Part II the sins of homosexuality, sodomy, uncleanness, and lewdness were covered.  In this installment I will be dealing with idolatry, covetousness, thievery, extortion, sorcery, hatred, and drunkenness.

The text used for this series can be found below, the underlining being my own.

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)

Most people have an understanding of pagan idolatry so little needs to be said of that.  There is still a lot of that kind of idolatry in the world but not in the modern day western world.  One finds it, however, not just in some remote tribal regions in say Africa or Southeast Asia but also in more advanced nations like India (Hinduism) and China and Japan (Buddhism – let the reader decide).  Most people from the West generally recognize pagan idolatry when they see it.  Few westerners are likely to be attracted to that type of idolatry.

Our danger in the West is of the more insidious types of idolatry.  For example, Paul says in Col. 3:5 that covetousness is idolatry.  An idol does not have to have a physical, material form and set on a shelf or be placed in a temple.  An idol is anything we worship ahead of God or in place of God.  It can come in the form of a hobby or sport, it can be money, it can be a job, it is anything you put before God, in place of God, as number one in your life. 

Covetousness, which Paul says is idolatry, is also on the list of sins that will keep one from an inheritance in the kingdom of God.  What is covetousness?  Well, Paul says in Acts 20:33, “I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel.” (NKJV)  Thus, to lust after another person’s possessions, desiring them for yourself is to covet.  In 1 Tim. 6:10 Paul speaks of some whose love of money led them to stray from the faith in their greediness for it.  Greediness is a synonym for covetousness.

We are not to lust after evil things (1 Cor. 10:6).  Paul speaks of those who “being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Eph. 4:19 NKJV)  Remember greediness is just another word for covetousness.  One can thus covet the immoral.

Covetousness is a desire for more and more.  "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." (Luke 12:15  NKJV)  I think we get the general idea of things or ways in which a person can covet and become covetous.

Somewhat related to covetousness is the sin of being a thief.  This would seem to be a sin so commonly understood that little would need to be said of it.  However, one must bear in mind there are things one can steal other than another person’s money or possessions.  I could steal your good name; I could steal your spouse if I was able to do so.  Yes, these sins would involve other sins as well as theft but, nevertheless, it would still be theft.

Then one could also steal by cheating on an exam or in a competition.  One can be a thief in many different scenarios.  If you are a thief, unrepentant, there is no inheritance in God’s kingdom for you.  We need to be perfectly honest in all of our dealings, no cheating, and no stealing.

Extortioners are another class of people who will not inherit God’s kingdom.  An extortioner is also one who covets but since one might covet only in his/her heart without taking action an extortioner acts on the sin in his heart.  David Lipscomb, in his commentary on 1 Corinthians 5:10, gives the easiest to understand definition of an extortioner.  He says, “An extortioner is one who by power or threats takes what is not his own or more than is right.  The man who takes advantage of another’s poverty, or his necessities, to obtain exorbitant gain, is an extortioner.”  Thus one might charge an exorbitant interest rate to one to whom you loan money who is in no position to seek the loan elsewhere.  The idea seems to be that the extortioner is in a position to exert his power over the other due to the other’s inferior position and lack of options.

John the Baptist, speaking to the tax collectors who had come to him asking him what they should do, told them “collect no more than what is appointed for you.” (Luke 3:13 NKJV)  He was saying do not extort the people from whom you are collecting taxes.  They were in a position where they could easily have extorted the people and gotten by with it had they a mind to do so, they had that power.  We are to be fair and honest in all of our dealings with others.  We are entitled to a profit in our business dealings but not an excessive one to the hurt of the other person who has no choice but deal with us.

We move now from sins related to greed to sorcery.  The Greek behind this word is translated by the word “witchcraft” in the New International Version and some other lesser well known translations.  It has the idea of the occult behind it.  Philip Schaff in his commentary says sorcery is “a secret tampering with the powers of evil” usually in association with idolatry.  Zerr in his commentary says, “It means any attempt to accomplish a result by means of pretended supernatural power or knowledge, such as fortune telling, palm reading, astrology, etc.”  It involved spells, incantations, enchantments, and magic.  David Lipscomb said of sorcery, “The use of magical enchantment, divination by supposed assistance of evil spirits, witchcraft.”

Perhaps the most well known biblical account of such activity was with King Saul at En Dor when he consulted the medium there (see 1 Sam. 28).  Sorcery was common in the world of the Old and New Testaments.  Paul encountered this activity more than once in his travels (see Acts 19:19 as an example, also Acts 8:9-11, 13:6).  One wants to stay as far away from fortune telling, consulting the dead, etc., as is possible.  “And when they say to you ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God?  Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isa. 8:19 NKJV)

We get an idea of God’s attitude toward all things occult from Deut. 18:10-12, “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.  For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord.”  The distinctions made here in the Old Testament among various aspects of the occult I do not find in the New Testament but I think they would all be covered under the word sorcery.

Hatred will also keep one from an inheritance in the kingdom of God.  We generally associate hatred as being an inward trait or feeling one has toward another individual or group.  That is certainly condemned, however, seldom if ever can one have a loathing in his/her heart for another without some manifestation of it in their behavior toward that individual.  Perhaps when around that individual you just make it obvious that you are cool toward them, want nothing to do with them, or perhaps you speak ill of them to others.  However it is done there are usually outward evidences of your animosity.

In worst case scenarios hatred can lead to malice where the hater seeks to do harm or injury to his object of hatred.  It can lead to violence and death.  Even when it does not go that far the apostle John says, “He who does not love his brother abides in death.  Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (I John 3:14-15 NKJV)  Earlier John says hatred blinds one.  “But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness … because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (1 John 2:11 NKJV)  We have all seen people or read about them so blinded by hatred that they cannot reason rationally.  Think Hitler if no other.

One might ask the question, is all there is either love or hate?  The only other thing I can think of is indifference but what is indifference?  It is not love.  Since it is not love it is not willing to help.  So where does that leave indifference?  One thinks of the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-36.  The priest and the Levite walked away from the injured man in need of assistance.  One can certainly say they had no love in their hearts for the man.  “He who does not love his brother abides in death.” (1 John 3:14 NKJV) 

The sin of drunkenness will also keep one out of any inheritance in the kingdom of God.  As is the case with all the sins listed by Paul in our texts we are talking about drunkenness that is unrepented of and that is ongoing.  Jesus said all sins will be forgiven the sons of men except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. (Mark 3:28-29 NKJV)  Drunkenness is not the unforgivable sin if repented of. 

We live in a society that seems to view drinking as a rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood and what would a party of adults be if we could not serve and drink alcoholic beverages?  It is as if our society idolizes alcohol and as if drinking makes a man a man and a woman a woman.  No one dare speak of the lost lives and ruined lives from drinking whether one wants to talk about those maimed or killed in car wrecks, those who commit crime while under the influence who would not have done so had they been sober, or those who become alcoholics and lose control over their lives and wreck havoc in their families.

When one becomes addicted to alcohol, or any drug, it is a tough climb out of addiction but it can be done.  Many have done it.  That is not to say it is easy.  I have often thought of this much like the difficulty one has who marries say in their late twenties or early thirties.  We are to live sexually pure lives and in many ways our standard under the law of Christ is even tougher than it was under the Law of Moses for it reaches even into the heart.  It is tough to live up to that standard as a single person through the many years of one’s youth who does not marry until late.  When you learn the correct definition of what God calls fornication, learn how extensive the meaning of that word is (translated “sexual immorality” in modern translations) you will understand what I am saying.  My point is nearly everyone fights strong prolonged temptation; if it is not this it is that or something else.  It is a difficult battle but it must be fought until victory is won. 

We ought always to fight temptation to win but, and if, we lose on occasion we should not despair and give up but get back up and start the fight all over again until finally with God’s help we win.  God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9) and so he will help the determined individual who will turn from his or her sin.  If God was out to get us he would zap us the first time we sinned.

To the person not addicted to a drug or alcohol that just enjoys getting high or drunk – are you out of your mind?  Having eyes to see can you not see?  Have you learned nothing from observation?  Do you not care about others and your example before them and what they might be led into because of you?   

I, obviously, have not yet finished this series of articles on sins that will keep us from an inheritance in the kingdom of God but we have gotten close enough I think one more article will do it and enough has been written for this time.   

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