With our new identity securely grounded in our union with Christ, we can begin to understand why the Bible draws big fat lines between who we are and who we used to be:
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 male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9–10)
This sounds like God hates slanderers and swindlers. He doesn’t. He loves slanderers and swindlers! When Jesus walked the earth, he spent time with slanderers and swindlers. Jesus even chose a thief to be one of his disciples (John 12:4–6).
However, slanderers and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Indeed, they cannot. Why not? Because slanderers and swindlers who come to Jesus don’t remain slanderers and swindlers. They become new. And a good thing that is too, otherwise the kingdom of heaven would be empty.
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Rev 21:8)
God has high standards—no liars admitted. And indeed, there are no liars in the kingdom, only former liars who have been made new. Neither are there any fornicators in the kingdom, only former fornicators who have been made new. (Do you see it yet?)
This is why the good news is good. The good news is the happy announcement that God is in the business of turning old, damaged people into new, holy people. He turns slanderers and swindlers into saints and sons.
If this is too much to swallow, take a detour to the Bible’s Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11. Here you will find a list of Old Testament men and women who were all commended for their faith.
Who are these heroes, these figures of renown?
Well there’s Noah (a drunk), Abraham (slept with the maid), and Jacob (a swindler if ever there was one). There is also a murderer (Moses), a prostitute (Rahab), and a double-dealing king (David).
David, as you know, got another man’s wife pregnant and then had that man killed to cover up his crime. So what does that make David? In the eyes of the law he is condemned as an adulterer and a murderer. Such a man will not inherit the kingdom of God; the Bible says so.
And yet I am certain we will meet David in eternity. How do I know? Because David trusted in the One who makes all things new. In God’s eyes, David is not a sinner but a son and a co-heir with Christ.
So am I. So are you.
Extracted from The Gospel in Ten Words.