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. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
The Unrighteous Will Not Be Saved
Peter said that some of Paul’s writings were hard to understand, and the untaught and unstable people will twist to their own destruction. That is not the case in the first letter to the saints at Corinth. There is clear and demonstrative language in Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians that cannot be missed. The world will muddy the word of God, bending truth to fit their pernicious ways, but that will not take away from the truth. Paul’s language is unambiguous, unmistakable, and unequivocal when he writes the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. There is no room for misunderstanding the message of the Holy Spirit. The reality of eternal damnation is not to be missed. Jesus taught that hell is real and the disobedient will be cast in the lake of fire and brimstone with no exceptions. Paul echoes the teaching of the Lord in showing that those who persist in sin will not find joy in death.
Eternal damnation is not a pleasant subject, and it is natural to recoil from its message. There is a healthy view of looking at hell as real because it is real. Denying it does not change its reality. It does not fit the human model of wisdom. God is full of love, but the wrath of God is the exercise of His divine righteousness. He has no desire to condemn anyone, but He must because of His character. Paul says the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. The unrighteous hearts of those who reject the grace of God cannot stand before a Holy God and find eternal life. Righteousness demands justification against unrighteousness. God created man; man did not create God. The law of God is what determines the destiny of humanity. Sadly, most people will never see eternal life. Jesus affirmed this in His teaching.
Paul asked a rhetorical question when he wrote to the Corinthians. They knew the unrighteous would not be saved. What the apostle did was to remind the saints of the damning influence of sin and that God did not show partiality of one sin to another. He suggests a list of sins as examples of what is commonly accepted in the world yet condemned by a Holy God. Fornication is sexual immorality accepted by a carnal world but will condemn a soul to hell. Sex before marriage is viewed as the passing rights of young people, but God calls it sin. Those who engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage will go to hell. Idolaters are not limited to those who fall before a stone image. Covetousness is idolatry. Adulterers will be condemned to hell. Men and women who defile their marriage vows by engaging in promiscuous relationships will not be saved. Infidelity is sin, and engaging in sex outside of the marriage bond condemns a soul to hell.
The world is becoming more desensitized to the immorality of homosexuality, but God’s view has never changed. Men and women who turn against the natural way to have sex and instead indulge in sex with each other will be damned. The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God, and this includes the sexually perverted. Among the list given by Paul are thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners. Stealing will damn a soul. Worshiping wealth damns a soul. Alcohol will send many to perdition, and those who live life as a wild party of indulgences and greed will find no joy in death. This list is not a final list but an example of God’s view of unrighteousness.
Paul’s language is offensive to the moral sensitivities of modern man. He was not writing to appeal to human wisdom but the reality of God’s judgment upon those who refuse to obey the word of the Lord. The Bible is filled with God’s wrath against unrighteousness. His righteousness demands justice. The only hope is found in leaving unrighteousness and seeking the paths of holiness, purity, and righteousness in the love of God. Among the Corinthians, some lived unrighteous lives, but when they came to the grace of God in obedience, they were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus. Their sins were all washed away in the waters of baptism. What joy the unrighteous became righteous. The message is clear. There is eternal damnation to those who live after the lusts of the world. Joy can only come in obedience.