By holding fast to Christ’s sexual ethic we are actually serving as loving witnesses to the truth in a depraved world. Paul ends his list of prohibitions in 1 Corinthians 6 by saying, “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 6:11). What strikes me about Paul’s statement is that obviously the witness of the Corinthian church had won both sexually immoral individuals and homosexuals over to the gospel. They did not do this by calling these sins ‘good’, but by calling them what they are: sins that must be repented of.
One of my friends once asked asked me if it was morally permissible to sleep with his girlfriend. She was pressuring him to sleep with her, and he was contemplating giving in to her requests. By the time he approached me, he had almost talked himself into it. When we sat down over coffee, I turned to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 where Paul says, “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, now swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
I explained to him that Paul’s point regarding the sexual ethics of a Christian is that sex could only take place in the God-given boundaries of a covenant marriage between a man and a woman. This is why the New American Standard rightly translates the Greek word pornoi in 1 Corinthians 6:11 as “fornicators”. Fornication is defined as any sexual act outside the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. As if this is not clear enough, when Paul refers to the “sexual immoral” he is clearly referring to what he had just expounded in 1Corinthians 5, where a man was sleeping with his father’s wife. Paul not only condemned this as fornication and sexual immorality, but he commanded the Corinthian church to dissociate (excommunicate) from the individual because he no longer evidenced being a Christian. He writes, “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I do do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13).
Judging Those Inside the Church
Paul’s command could not be any clearer. We should not be surprised when unbelievers in our sexualized culture engage in fornication or homosexuality, but we must take great measures to judge and even “purge” those within the Church who do engage in sexual immorality. In other words, the witness of Scripture is so clear on this point that Paul says that when God’s Word is not obeyed in the realm of sexuality, that the person is to be separated from the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 5:13). The reason for this is that this type of disobedience Paul says is evidence that that type of individual is not a true Christian and will “not inherit the kingdom of God” (Corinthians 6:9).