Before the Apostle Paul became a Christian, he persecuted Christians. He had them thrown into prison, where many were probably put in Rome’s “circus,” where they were torn apart by wild animals or killed by gladiators for the entertainment of the crowds. Paul calls himself “the chief of sinners.” He wrote, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15, 16).
One of the churches where the Apostle Paul taught was the church at Corinth. According to J. D. Thomas, Corinth was a very wealthy city and also a very wicked city. It supported many different cultures, philosophies, and religions. The chief pagan god was Poseidon, the Greek goddess of the sea. Those who worshiped Aphrodite, the goddess of love, built her a temple where a thousand harlots served as her priestesses. People came to the temple in droves to participate in immoral sexual activities. It was so bad that the term to Corinthianize became a powerful expression for immoral living.1
Now read what Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10).
We’re not surprised that those who do such things will not go to heaven. But look at what Paul writes next: “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
What?? Those people who did those things were going to heaven? Yes! They were eligible for citizenship in God’s kingdom and in heaven because they repented of their sins and were washed by the blood of Christ when they were baptized. They were acceptable in God’s sight because of the sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross.
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