Christ saves Christians from the power sin has in their daily lives. Making our hearts new on the inside, so that we live differently on the outside.
Come To Christ, Just As You Are
The world’s best news: a Jesus who saves sinners
“You don’t need to go and try to change yourself out there first, and then show up before Jesus. No, come just as you are with all your weaknesses, all your failures, all your sins. Come to him and he will clean you up. That’s the world’s best news: a Jesus who saves sinners.”
Topics & Timestamps
0:00 – Bible Reading
0:38 – The Two Sides of God’s Saving Work
4:35 – Lives Changed By Christ
5:43 – Lives That Show True Salvation
9:38 – Unrighteousness And A Holy God
18:09 – Do Not Be Deceived
22:51 – Come To Jesus Who Cleans You
26:28 – A Heart Transformation
32:25 – A Changed Life Shows A Changed Heart
35:26– The Good News That Jesus Saves Sinners
“We are witnesses in this world of the kind of God who is there. And people may love sin, but we must not hide the fact that God has made it plain in his Book that he hates sin.”
“God not only saves us from the Hell to which sin takes us; he saves us from the sin that takes us to Hell.”
“Let’s make sure that we recognize that Jesus Christ, in his salvation, doesn’t just clean our records in Heaven, he also cleans our hearts on earth … once upon a time we loved sin, we now love righteousness.”
Other Content On This Topic
What Is The Gospel? // Ask An African Pastor
Why Would A Loving God Send People To Hell?
Text: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Date preached: 18 September 2022
Location: Christ Church Midrand, Gauteng, South Africa
Good morning church, our Bible reading is First Corinthians chapter 6 verses 9 to 11.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
This is the word of God.
The Two Sides of God’s Saving Work
Thank you. It’s a great joy for me to be with you this morning, and later on this evening, bringing God’s Word to you. As you’ve already heard from Martin, as I was praying about what it is I should share with you on this Lord’s Day, especially as I was told that I would be speaking both morning and evening, I thought I could handle two sides of God’s saving work, the salvation that we enjoy in the Lord Jesus Christ. On one hand it is that he cleans our hearts, and then on the other is that he cleans our records. And our hearts, he cleansed them, he changes them, he transforms them on earth, while we are experiencing the glory of his salvation, and then our records are also cleaned or changed or transformed, but that is done, as it were, in the filing cabinets in Heaven. And so, these are the two that I plan to share with you.
And in order to do the first, I’m drawing your attention to this passage that has just been read for us: First Corinthians chapter 6 verse 9 down to verse 11. The aspects that I’ve just pointed out of salvation are critical for our understanding of the way in which God reconciles sinners to himself. It is the very heart of the Christian message. In fact, it’s basically what God has been doing from the time of uh Adam and Eve in Genesis and chapter 3. Our God is a redeemer – that’s his business. He’s involved in changing individuals, not just in terms of the moral transformation, but primarily in terms of bringing individuals into his Heaven, instead of them going to Hell. He rejoices in doing so and this is really the message that, as a Christian church, we take to the world: that the world has a saviour in God himself. And, in order for us to appreciate this well, Paul wrestles with this matter in the passage that we have just seen now. The two sides are actually mentioned in verse 11. Notice there in the passage that was read earlier, the Bible says that,
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified… (that’s referring to this change that we’ll be talking about in a few minutes, and then he says) and you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…” (1 Corinthians 6:11)
And that is now referring to the cleaning up of our record in Heaven. And finally, he comes back to who does the washing and the sanctifying when he says,
“…and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)
So, I hope as you share the Gospel, you share these two truths because they are an essential ingredient of our salvation.
Lives Changed By Christ
Well, why did Paul deal with it in this letter? Those of you who are familiar with the book of Acts will know that Paul was involved in the planting of the church in, in Corinth and therefore, it was a church that was very dear to his own heart. He speaks about it in chapter 1, chapter 2, and chapter 3, how he had been, had gone there determined to know nothing among them but Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2) He speaks about the way in which, although the Jews were demanding miraculous signs and the Greeks were seeking wisdom, he said he was committed to simply preaching Christ and him crucified. And he says there, in chapter 1 of this book, that Christ was the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:23-24) In other words, Jesus Christ changed the lives of these Corinthians.
Lives That Show True Salvation
However, between the work that he did and the time that he was writing this letter, morally speaking, the church had begun to allow immoral behaviour among their members and living even with that. And so, we noticed that Paul addresses this at the beginning of chapter 5. Look at what he says there in First Corinthians chapter 5. He says,
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, (and he uses an example of that when he says) for a man has his father’s wife.” (1 Corinthains 5:1)
He even then goes on to speak about the attitude that they had as a church towards this. He says there in verse 2,
“And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn?” (1 Corinthians 5:2)
So, it was something that they’d began to live with, even within their own midst, and, and Paul is saying, “No, that’s, that’s, that’s not Christianity. In the Christian faith there is supposed to be a moral transformation.” And he comes back to this in verse 9. He says there,
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – (and then he quickly qualifies that and says) not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, (and he adds to that list) the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, (and so on and says that’s impossible because if you’re to do that you )… need to go out of the world.” (1 Corinthians 5:9)
In other words, individuals who are unconverted are sinners, and they might be sinners in one way or the other, we are not to run away from them or shun them. We are supposed to get into their lives in order to win them to Christ. We are to, as it were, love them into the kingdom.
But then it says in verse 11, “But now I’m writing to you… (I’m now being very specific about the category I had in mind.)
“I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother…” (1 Corinthians 5:11a)
In other words, someone now who is claiming that “Jesus has saved me,” but look at the way he’s living.
“…if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard or swindler (and then he says) – with such a one, do not even eat. (1 Corinthians 5:11b)
Okay. So, the point there is it’s, it’s important to drive home the lesson to everybody who claims to be a Christian that God in fact saves sinners and, if you are still in sin, then you are not yet saved. We ought to speak in these terms: that God not only saves us from the Hell to which sin takes us; he saves us from the sin that takes us to Hell. That’s a full job and for that, we ought to be most grateful.
Unrighteousness And A Holy God
Well, clearly the Apostle Paul comes back to this issue is chapter 6 verse 9 to verse 11. How does he tackle it? First of all, it is by making the assertion, in question form, that the righteous, the unrighteous rather, will not enter Heaven. Look at the way he puts it there in verse 9,
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” (1 Corinthians 6:9)
He’s obviously expecting the answer to be “yes,” and I think it’s important for us to come to terms with this reality. Why is that the case? Why should it be so? The answer is simply because of the kind of God who is there. God is Holy. He is worshiped in Heaven as, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:3) And what that simply means is that by very nature, he abhors sin. He hates sin. He’ll have nothing to do with sin, in that sense. That it’s the same way in which you cannot mix oil and water, you can’t mix light and darkness. It’s the same with God: the moment you, you, you have sin in that place, God is not there. The moment you have God in that place, sin is not there. And therefore, since he is in Heaven, sin cannot dwell there. He has to deal with it so that unrighteousness does not come into His presence.
But it’s not just his nature, it’s the fact that he has shown it across history. The account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis chapter 3. You remember that the moment they sinned, God banished them out of the Garden of Eden. Why? They could not dwell with him. He could not dwell with them and hence the punishment that they were given.
Or, by the time we’re reaching chapter 6 7, 8 and 9 of the book of Genesis, God is grieved by the continuing life of sin in the human race and, as a result of that, he sends the flood to destroy all except righteous Noah and his family and the, the animals and birds and so on – the other creatures. But that’s God. It’s his very nature. He is holy and he must punish sin. He is a just God and that’s the very reason why he has established a Hell, that sinners dwell there for all eternity instead of being with him in his righteous place called Heaven.
In the rest of the Old Testament, that’s the story. If, if you miss the reality that God is Holy, you fail to understand why the children of God were treated (the Israelites) were treated the way in which they were treated across the Old Testament. Individual after individual who would have been an Israelite would have been punished by God in life, because of sin. The very nation of Israel as a whole were finally banished into the Assyrian captivity, and later on the Babylonian captivity, because of idolatry, which is one of the sins listed here. Why? It’s the nature of God. God is Holy. He hates sin and, consequently, he must punish sin.
Well, Paul comes back to this, and he puts it in question form, obviously expecting us to give the answer, “Yes, we know.”
“…Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” (1 Corinthians 6:9)
As a Christian church, we must never compromise on that because, when we compromise on that, we are simply deceiving people. We are witnesses in this world of the kind of God who is there. And people may love sin, but we must not hide the fact that God has made it plain in his Book that he hates sin. It is his very nature. The Apostle Paul proceeds, upon bringing out this point by primarily making us realize that this is a matter about which we must never be deceived. And he goes into quite some detail in verse 9 going into verse 10. Let’s go back to it and he’s simply sampling different kinds of sins, primarily because they seem to have been rife in the church in Corinth. So, he says there,
“Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9b)
I said, the sampling, you can’t miss it from chapter 5, where he’s talked about, in verse 1 the sexually immoral. He’s spoken in verse 10, the sexually immoral or the greedy or swindlers or idolators. He repeats that in verse 11. “He who is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, who is an idolater, reviler, drunkard or swindler,” and so on. So, he’s basically regurgitating all that, bring it out afresh and it’s most probable that it’s because these were the sins that had become rife in the church in Corinth. And when the brethren that came to report to him were telling him what was happening in Corinth, these would have been the sins that were being mentioned. And all that Paul is saying is this: “You can’t live like this and expect to be in Heaven.” You can’t. And he puts it this way: “Do not be deceived.”
Do Not Be Deceived
Deception is a terrible state to be in when you discover, in the end, that you were believing a lie, believing a lie. A friend of mine, who was a pastor, was invited for a conference here in South Africa. And as he left Zambia to come for the conference, upon crossing into Zimbabwe, he exchanged the Zambian kwacha for South African rands on the streets. Individuals on the Zambian side of the border were exchanging money and providing a lower rate than the bureaus, so he thought, “Wow, this is good!” So, he got his South African rands and travelled all the way across Zimbabwe and arrived at the South African border and as he was about to pay there to come in, the person on the other side of the till said, “No this is a counterfeit rand.” So, he produced some more – it was counterfeit. Produced more – counterfeit. Actually, all the rand he had was counterfeit. And so, he borrowed money from others that were traveling to South Africa and made his way back home.
Thankfully, a year later, same conference, he came. This time – hahaha, yeah, yeah! They say, “Once bitten, twice shy,” don’t they? He got rand from the bureau. Okay, doesn’t matter how low you exchange rate might be, he went into the bureau and found himself in South Africa and attended the conference.
But I’ve never forgot how he was really beating himself for what happened. That he had gone all the way, just about to enter into South Africa, when he had to go back, because he had been deceived. Now thankfully, with respect to conferences, there is another one coming the following year.
With respect to going to Heaven, there’s no second chance and you can’t arrive on your death bed, die, find out on the other side that actually you were not saved, you were not a true Christian, and then say, “Okay, let me head back. I’ll do it the right way around now.” It’s too late. It’s too late. You were deceived and you must pay for it for all eternity. All eternity, that’s tragic, tragic. And what Paul is saying here is, “Let’s make sure we don’t allow this kind of deceit to reduce us to being victims.” Then let’s make sure that this issue, this non-negotiable issue, is clarified in our minds. Let’s make sure that we recognize that Jesus Christ, in his salvation, doesn’t just clean our records in Heaven, he also cleans our hearts on earth. That’s what he does. And that our hearts have actually been cleaned. That once upon a time, we loved sin, we now love righteousness. Once upon a time, we despised righteousness. We now love, we now despise sin. Okay, whatever it is! But let’s make sure we are on the right side of this issue.
Come To Jesus Who Cleans You
And thankfully, this is where our good news is to the world. We are saying to individuals who are guilty of this lifestyle mentioned here, we are saying to them that “Come as you are. Jesus Christ saves.” He, he actually cleans. He, he washes you by the power of His Spirit, which is what Paul goes on to speak about here in that last verse. Let’s, let’s quickly read it. He says there in verse 11,
“And such were some of you.” (1 Corinthians 6:11a)
In other words, when Paul went into Corinth, a lot of the Corinthians, this was their lifestyle. That’s the way in which they live. This was the water they were drinking in day and night. And then, he shared this good news of Jesus Christ, a saviour of sinners. And these individuals, convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit, cried to Jesus Christ to save them, and he did save them. He changed them. He transformed their hearts so that they no longer loved sin, they now loved righteousness instead. And he’s saying – notice the past tense –
“And such were some of you.” (1 Corinthians 6:11a)
Notice again the past tense here,
“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11b)
The phrase “being washed” and “being sanctified” both refer to the same action. All that Paul is doing is beginning with picture language (washing) and then he is mentioning it as it really is – and it is a sanctifying. The word “sanctify” simply means being made holy. That’s all it means: being made holy. It’s a, a moral transformation that has taken place. But he deliberately begins with his picture language, being washed, because we all know what being washed is. It’s the fact that something is dirty and then you clean it up. That’s often (how) sin is pictured in those kinds of pictures imagery. It’s, it’s darkness and then, as you are transformed, you become light in the Lord. Or there is corruption and, as you become a Christian or you are brought to salvation, there is a cleaning up. You are washed. And that’s the picture that is being used here.
A Heart Transformation
And again, it’s crucial that we see this that is the most apt illustration of what happens to us when we become Christians. There is a cleaning, but that cleaning is, spiritually speaking, a transformation of the heart by the Holy Spirit. It is what God promised the people of Israel in Ezekiel when he says,
“I will take out of you your stony heart and put within you a heart of flesh and I’ll cause my Spirit to dwell in you, that you might be enabled to obey my commandments. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 paraphrased)
It is that transformation that is being referred to here and I’m speaking about it as God cleaning our hearts here on earth. He does it. He changes us from the inside out.
You recall when I was testifying about my sister’s salvation that, that’s what said to me that I was not yet a Christian. We grew up together. We’re in the same home. Now I came back to Dad’s home after she had been back a few months, and I found a completely transformed sister. We were going through a very difficult time in the family. Since my mom died, Dad had become an alcoholic and anything that could be turned into alcohol disappeared. It was like locusts had passed through the house. And yet, in the midst of all that, my sister had a joy that these things could not take away. She would be singing, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see,” with joy. The way in which was handling me, you know, sibling wars! Previously, I’d drive her nuts, but now it was like water off a duck’s back. She just shrug and that’s it.
I thought, “If that’s what it means to be a Christian, I’m not a Christian.” She loved to read her Bible. She loved to pray. She was godliness walking on two feet, while I was still up to mischief and sin and wickedness and evil. And I knew if that’s what it means to be a Christian, I need to get back to the drawing board. The Lord must save me. Well, thankfully, after three months of struggling, I got on my knees at the end of myself and simply said, “Jesus, you saved my sister. Please save me too.” This washing is not outward, it’s inward. It’s the changing of the heart, remember. It’s the changing of the heart. On the outwards, on the outside, it’s still you, with all your wrinkles and everything else, it’s you, but it’s the inside that is changed.
I like to use the picture of a pig and a cat. Now, most of us who have cats, you know, that from what you can see, your cat is clean, almost always clean. But when it’s alone, it’s always cleaning itself. It’s, it’s, it’s licking itself clean. Whereas a pig, wash it as much as you want, the moment it just sees a pool of muddy, dirty water, in its heart, it goes “Hooray!” and plunges into that dirt because that’s its life.
Now, if we could (of course this wouldn’t happen) but you, I’m sure you’ll understand the picture. If we could do some operation and take out of that pig it’s heart, and get the heart of the cat in. Yeah, we will be shocked, wouldn’t we, to see this pig cleaning itself by the side. But friends, that’s exactly what God has done to us, by removing that stony heart, that heart that loves sin, and putting in us a new heart, a heart that loves righteousness. That’s what often shocks friends when you become a Christian because they can’t understand how you have changed.
A Changed Life Shows A Changed Heart
For me, I remember it was between secondary school and University and it was a shock to the system of my friends, because they, we met at University after our days in school, and they just expected that, “Conrad, let’s go!” that I’d be saying, “Yes, let’s go! Let’s go!” And then I said, “No, no, I’ve now become a Christian.” “Oh, come on, man. This is, this can’t be come on.” And I turn them down. They thought, “Okay, let’s give him a week.” A week passed. “Okay, let’s give him a month, you know. He’ll get over it. This was his life.” Well, it’s now 35 years, plus. I became a Christian 42 years ago. I’m sure they’ve given up, especially that the chap has been become a pastor now. He’s just gone totally out of orbit.
But that’s what shocks the non-Christians, when your life is transformed and you, you, you continue that upward way in holiness. And especially if your conversion takes place after you marry and your spouse sees this change and says, “Well, whatever that preacher did to him, he will get over it shortly, you know.” Then, no! You continue! And you’re going from strength to strength, and that’s what finally wins the spouse to Christ. Because finally your, your spouse says to you, “Whatever it is that happened to you, I want it too.”
There’s a Christian movie uh that’s been made uh in, in, in the U.S that actually typifies something of this and at the end of that movie, that’s exactly what a wife says to the husband. That’s the way it ends. It’s simply this, “Whatever has happened to you, I want that for myself.”
And that’s what won me to Christ. It was when I saw it in my sister and I said, “If that’s Christianity, then I need to be seeking it. This washing, this sanctifying, this cleaning of the heart on this side of eternity.”
The Good News That Jesus Saves Sinners
Let me quickly wrap this up in this way: that this is our good news to the world. I know it sounds rather negative here because he’s saying, “The unrighteous will not enter, the unrighteous will not enter…” and so forth. And yeah, we, we sort of get jarred by that. But remember, he’s saying that’s what some of you were, and then you were transformed by Jesus.
In other words, that’s the message that we also have to share with the world, that Jesus actually saves. He changes hearts. He changes people from those who love sin into those who love righteousness and that he can change you. And that’s good news! I mean, where else can anybody go to go and deal with issues of their own sin? We have the message that says, “Come to Christ, just as you are.” You don’t need to go, to go and try to, to change yourself out there first, and then show up before Jesus. No, come just as you are with all your weaknesses, all your failures, all your sins. Come to him and he will clean you up. That’s the world’s best news: a Jesus who saves sinners.
But then secondly, it is this: that those of us who may have professed faith in Christ, have all along thought we were Christians, but then we found that we actually still love sin. We still love our sin, whatever the sin might be. Instead of us becoming hypocrites, living one life when we are with Christians in the open, and then living another life behind closed doors in the darkness, there’s no need to do that. Why waste your life that way when you have a saviour who saves sinners? Come to him and let him save you now, let him change your life now, let him turn you into a real Christian.
It’s like the way it is back home. Often, when people greet me, “How are you?” I inevitably with that thing I always say, “Fine and you?” You know, I just don’t even think about it. But when the person asking me is a medical doctor (and) says, “How are you?” I sort of pause. You see, because now, I’ve got somebody who, if I’m not well, can do something about it. So, I pause and I (say), “Actually, you know, for the last two nights, I’ve been struggling with sleep…” Because it’s a doctor now. This isn’t just a “Hi, hi”. He could change my life for the better.
Well, it’s the same with Christ. Why continue in hidden sin, why, when he’s the Great Physician who fixes hearts? Why? Go to him. Tell him the truth, that, “This is the way I’ve been living. You know, Lord. This is the way I’ve been living, and I’ve heard that you clean hearts. You, you make sinful hearts holy now. I bring my heart to you: clean me, change me, transform me, make me a person who will truly, truly, truly love righteousness and godliness and holiness, because you’ve changed me from the inside. Jesus you’re a saviour – save me now.” Won’t you do that, and won’t you do that today? Let’s pray.
Our Father in Heaven, thank you that we can know on this side of eternity that we, we are Christians, that our destination has changed because, through your Son and through your Spirit, you save sinners. You change us from the inside out that we might indeed seek after holiness, for without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. Oh God, by your Holy Spirit, take this truth and burn it into our hearts and our lives so that we do not content ourselves with living in sin, and then thinking that somehow, we will find ourselves in Heaven. Lord, by your Holy Spirit, bring us to the foot of the cross. Bring us to your Son, that we might experience real salvation. For Jesus’ sake we pray, Amen.