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 men who submit to or perform homosexual acts,
I. WHAT OUR INHERITANCE IS. "The kingdom of God:" present, but chiefly future. Of which Peter speaks (2 Peter 3:13), "We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." Heaven, and the heavenly life, and the heavenly joys; the "rest that remaineth for the people of God;" the nightless, sinless, curseless, painless land; the "many mansions" of the Father's house; the eternal home, where we "shall see his face." This inheritance is in a certain sense the inheritance of all, since Christ died for the sins of the world. The gospel invitation is addressed to all. We disinherit ourselves.
II. SINS WHICH HINDER US FROM INHERITING THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
1. Sins of sensuality. Brutal lusts; unholy indulgence. Amongst the ancients (and also amongst the moderns too) vices existed which must not be so much as named amongst the decent and pure.
2. Idolatry. If we serve false gods, how can we expect a reward from the true God? Some have keen eyes for injuries done to men; idolatry is a preeminent sin against God. And we may be thorough idolaters whilst we are professed Christians. What is that which occupies the throne of our heart and of our life? Is it an idol or is it God?
3. Theft, covetousness, extortion. These may be grouped together. They do not seem so heinous as the foregoing, but they are associated with them - and through them, equally with the others, may the inheritance be lost. Such sin shows that our heart is not right either towards man or God. And the three are much upon a par. Yet many a man would be horrified at the thought of being a thief who is not at all horrified at being undoubtedly covetous and extortionate. How names betray us! Why, what is covetousness but theft in the bud? And extortion is theft - unmitigated theft - in the blossom! Many a man steals mentally, and is as guilty as if he stole actually; for nothing but the restraints of society and the dock keep his hands still. And he passes for an honest man! Many a theft is committed in a court of justice before the very eyes of judge and jury, and sometimes with the assistance of a bewigged counsel; for example, when a man is striving to get more than his due.
4. Drunkenness. This curse of our land - what men lose by it! Health, respect, friends, position, home, wealth - and the kingdom of God.
5. Foul language. Reviling, railing, sins of the tongue. Foul lips which speak of a foul heart, for the sweet fountain sends not forth bitter waters. Sins such as these entail the forfeiture of the great inheritance. Plainly are we here taught that a nominal faith can never save us. All the profession in the world cannot carry us an inch towards the promised land. It is the old pagan notion that religion consists in outward observances and not in heart and life.
III. THESE HINDRANCES MAY BE REMOVED. Here is consolation for great sinners - and who are small ones? When a man is deeply convinced of sin he is often tempted to despair. Can I, the unclean, the immoral, the foul mouthed, the foul hearted, enter into the kingdom of ineffable holiness? It seems impossible. But after detailing some of the vilest acts of which humanity can be guilty, the apostle turns upon the Corinthians and says, "And such were some of you." Of greatest sinners God has sometimes made greatest saints. If the heart be contrite, there is no cause for the abandonment of hope. The barriers which are insuperable to man can be cast down by the might of God. In our sin we need look to God, for none besides can aid us. Our sickness is beyond all skill save that of the great Physician.
IV. THE MANNER OF REMOVAL. The apostle speaks of "washing" - the great need of the defiled - and then directs attention to its twofold character. That the impure may enter into the all pure kingdom of God, two things are necessary.
1. Justification - which we receive through Christ (ver. 11). He took our place; he bore our sins; he made atonement for us. Our sins are imputed to him; his righteousness is imputed to us. Through him God can be just and yet the Justifier of the ungodly. "With his stripes we are healed; The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7); he is able to save "to the uttermost;" "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18).
2. Sanctification - which we receive through the operation of "the Spirit of our God" (ver. 11), the Holy Ghost. Justification is that which is done for us; sanctification is that which is done in us. Yet one is not without the other. By the Divine Spirit we become "born again," "born of the Spirit," made pure inwardly; our affections purged, our desires corrected, our spiritual being controlled and purified (see John 3:3).
V. A CAUTION IMPLIED. "And such were some of you." Are ye becoming so again? We need beware of "going back" to those things which once barred our access to the kingdom of God, and which will do so again if indulged in. Our great inheritance may be lost after all! It will be, unless we "endure to the end." How earnest anxious, prayerful, watchful should we be lest we "come short"! There is One who is "able to keep us from falling" (Jude 1:24). "Cleave unto the Lord your God" (Joshua 23:8). - H.
Know ye not Shall the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.Sometimes we persistently deceive ourselves. We insist upon pursuing a policy for our benefit which all but ourselves clearly see to be absurd and useless. We cling to a pet project and nurse a worthless conceit long after the folly of both is recognised by everybody else. But we are not altogether to be blamed. For instinct itself is sometimes at fault, and its powers are uselessly applied. A hen will sit with the greatest tenacity on rounded pieces of chalk; and the Hamster rat breaks the wings of dead birds as well as of living ones before it devours them. Insects also occasionally err on the same principle, as when the blow-fly lays its eggs on the flower of the stapelia, deceived by its carrion-like odour. A spider, deprived of its egg-bag, will cherish with the same fondness a little pellet of cotton thrown to it.
(Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.)1. The kingdom.
2. The danger of delusion in reference to it.
3. The certain exclusion of all unrighteousness.
4. The necessity of a change in those who enter it.
5. The means by which this change is effected.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)I. WHAT OUR INHERITANCE IS — "the kingdom of God," present, but chiefly future (2 Peter 3:13). Heaven is rest, joy, purity, vision. This inheritance is in a sense the inheritance of all, since Christ died for the sins of the world. We disinherit ourselves.
II. THE HINDRANCES TO IT.
1. Sins of sensuality.
2. Idolatry. If we serve false gods how can we expect a reward from the true? Some have keen eyes for injuries done to men; idolatry is a pre-eminent sin against God. What is it that occupies the throne of our heart?
3. Theft, covetousness, extortion. These are much upon a par. Yet many a man who would be horrified at the thought of being a thief thinks nothing of covetousness or extortion. But what is covetousness but theft in the bud? and extortion but theft in the blossom! A man who steals mentally is as guilty as if he stole actually; for nothing but the restraints of society and the dock keep his hands still. Many a theft is committed in a court of justice with the assistance of counsel: e.g., when a man is striving to get more than his due.
4. Drunkenness. The curse of our land. What men lose by it — health, respect, friends, wealth, and the kingdom of God.
5. Foul language. Reviling, railing, sins of the tongue. Foul lips speak a foul heart. Plainly we are here taught that a nominal faith cannot save us. All the profession in the world will not secure our inheritance.
III. THESE HINDRANCES MAY BE REMOVED. Here is consolation for great sinners — and who are small ones? When a man is deeply convinced of sin he is often tempted to despair. Can I, the unclean, &c., enter the holy heaven? It seems impossible. But the apostle turns upon his converts and says — "And such were some of you." Of greatest sinners God has sometimes made the greatest saints. The barriers insuperable to man may be cast down by the might of God. No sickness is beyond the skill of the great Physician.
IV. THE MANNER OF REMOVAL. Paul speaks of "washing" in its twofold character.
1. Justification, which we receive through Christ (ver. 11).
2. Sanctification, which we receive through the operation of "the Spirit of our Lord" (ver. 11).
V. A CAUTION IMPLIED — "And such were some of you." Are ye becoming so again? Our great inheritance may be lost after all, and will be unless we endure to the end.
(W. E. Hurndall, M. A.)
I. OF THE MORAL CHARACTER OF MANKIND. Sin which may be defined as self-gratification is here presented in a variety of forms. The principle of sin, like holiness, is one and simple, but the forms are multifarious. These morally corrupt Corinthians were changed in the very root and fountain of their character.
II. INDISPENSABLE TO A HAPPY DESTINY. "The kingdom of God" — the reign of truth, purity, love. To inherit that empire, to be in it, not as occasional visitors, but as permanent citizens, is our high destiny. For this we were made. Hence Christ urges us to seek it first. There is no getting into it without this moral reformation.
III. EFFECTED BY THE REDEMPTIVE AGENCY OF CHRIST. They had been cleansed from their moral foulness, "washed"; consecrated to holiness, "sanctified"; made right in their being and relationships, "justified." And this "in the name," &c. Nothing on earth will effect this moral change but the gospel; not legislative enactments, or scientific systems.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
Nor drunkards.1. No pestilence has ever wrought as much devastation and misery as the pestilence of drunkenness. Even its physical destructions are simply terrific. It is the origin of many of the worst forms of disease. Nor are the moral and social devastations of drunkenness less terrific than its physical devastations. Drunkenness extinguishes the fires of shame, profanes the shrines of self-respect, enfeebles the forces of resistance to evil; stifles conscience. And what shall we say of drunkenness in its ravages upon religion? And what is true of Christian work in foreign lands is not less true of Christian work at home. Drunkenness is a fearful hindrance to Christian enterprise. It counteracts, if it does not overweigh, all Christian endeavour to ameliorate the moral and social condition of the people.
2. The causes of drunkenness, it seems to me, are seldom sufficiently inquired into and considered. Some races of mankind, e.g., are constitutionally more temperate than others; and some climates foster intoxication more than others. Both the race and climate of Sweden, e.g., are eminently favourable to drunkenness. The Swedes are Goths, and the Goths are a proverbially drunken race. The long, cold, dark winter of Sweden are also calculated to encourage habits of intoxication. On the other hand, in many southern climates, where the people, under the genial influences of the radiant sun, feel little natural desire for stimulants, a strong artificial desire has been created by the facilities with which ardent spirits have been commercially introduced. There are also two other causes of drunkenness which, although in themselves irremovable, are yet capable of being brought under favourable control. These two causes are —(1) An hereditary disposition to drink; and —(2) A highly wrought nervous constitution. In both cases alike total abstinence is, I believe, essential, and moderate drinking impossible. And when I speak of total abstinence, I speak of it not as an irksome restraint but as a charter of freedom. But the cause of temperance is not exclusively the cause of total abstinence. Total abstainers need all the co-operation they can receive from non-abstainers in their crusade against drunkenness, and particularly in removing the causes of drunkenness wherever those causes are removable. It is said that "people cannot be made sober by Act of Parliament." Whether this be so or not it is certainly true that multitudes are made drunk by the unnecessary and over-numerous temptations which are permitted by Act of Parliament. But the Licensing Laws are not the only removable cause of drunkenness. The most fruitful of all causes of drunkenness is, I believe, wretchedness; wretchedness social, moral, and personal. Look at the way our poor are herded together in our crowded towns, without air or light, with no comforts or recreations! Can you wonder they are drunken? Drunkenness is the Nemesis, the avenging punishment, of the utter selfishness of modern civilisation, which cares so little for the overcrowded poor. In other cases, also, wretchedness is the cause of drunkenness. Think of the wretched, empty, stagnant condition of many human lives. Think of the long, dreary hours which some operatives have to work; hours which leave no time for self-improvement or recreation. Can you wonder that such persons drink? Nor is the guilt of the sin wholly theirs. It is partly yours and mine for allowing such a frightful state of things to continue to exist. Three other causes of drunkenness only will I mention; viz., selfishness, the stings of an uneasy conscience, and the wretchedness of many homes — homes capable of comfort, peace, and joy, but homes made utterly miserable by indolence, stubbornness, evil tempers, artificial worries, and want of love.
3. These are, I think, the principal causes of drunkenness; and in most instances the remedies suggest themselves. We need great and fundamental reforms in our Licensing Laws. We need to Christianise our civilisation in the direction of ameliorating the lives of the multitudinous poor. We need less rush and more repose in daily life. We need a sounder and more indignant public opinion concerning drunkenness. We need also a great revival of the Christian ideals of marriage and domestic life — ideals which, when wrought in practice, make home the mirror of heaven on earth. We need, lastly, and above all things, to inculcate the eternal truth that wilful and deliberate drunkenness is sin; sin which brutalises every part of man's nature; sin which, if unforsaken, shuts the door of heaven against the drunkard.
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