Will anything keep me out of heaven?

Okay, before we begin this discussion, we better clarify some of the key terms:

  • Righteous: After our eviction from Eden in Genesis 3:24, the lives of humanity were filled with sin. Yet despite our sin, God provided us with garments to cover our shame. As mortal human beings, no one can live or be judged as morally right by our feeble efforts or virtue. Our only hope to be declared righteous lies in the grace of God that is seen through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is a rich adjective that reflects a person’s state of justification in the eyes of God.
  • The term “Unrighteous defines anyone who chooses to live contrary to God’s directive. Under the Mosaic Law, unrighteous people are not to be admitted through the gates of heaven (Heb. šāmayim; Gk. Ouranos/Uranus; see 1 Kings 8:27-53). Revelation 21:8 warns us about the penalty awaiting all those who are judged unrighteous:

8But for the cowardly, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and sexually immoral persons, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Revelation 21:8
  • Inherit: An inheritance is anything of intrinsic value that you receive as a rightful heir, are genetically entitled to, or get left with by a previous owner after they’ve died. In the New Testament, the central use of the terms inherits and inheritance lends themselves to the gracious spiritual gifts of salvation to all believers from God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:6
  • Kingdom of God: To start, the Kingdom of God is not only in heaven or in some postapocalyptic domain of paradise and perfection reserved for the elect. The Bible tells us that God is the Creator and King of all Creation. Thus the Kingdom of God transcends time and space.

The basic meaning of the word kingdom in the Bible is God’s kingly rule — his reign, his action, his lordship, his sovereign governance.

What is the Kingdom of God? John Piper, Desiring God

Let’s begin!

Brace yourself! This is a pretty confronting passage,

9Or 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 homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11Such 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 6:9-11 (NASB)

Sexual Immorality

From Genesis, God designed sex as a physical union between a married man and woman. It was always supposed to be pleasurable; however, out of His love for us and our wellbeing, God’s given it limitations. When we stray (or leap) outside the boundaries of these rational, commonsense limitations, we commit sin. 

The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not leave a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 4:6-8

Idolaters

The sin of idolatry is positioned between that of the sexually immoral and adulterers. This isn’t by mere happenstance. An individual’s addiction to compulsive sexual behaviour or covetous sexual relations are forms of idolatry.

Now, when the Bible talks about idolatry, it’s not merely referring to the carved statues of deities worshipped by a vast collection of religions. Instead, an idol is anything in your life that you love ahead of God Himself. Thus, idolatry can include your career, your property, your family, yourself, anything material or spiritual. Indeed, even the church in the form of religion or status can be a form of idolatry.

11For I have been informed concerning you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. 12Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” or “I am with Cephas,” or “I am with Christ.” 13Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 1:11-13

By the grace of God, like many other Christian pastors and missionaries, the apostle Paul was a gifted speaker. Some of Paul’s companions had told him about disputes which had arisen in the Corinthian church. The members had identified themselves with a particular preacher or tradition rather than with Christ himself.

Adulterers

Sleeping, carousing, or even spending an exorbitant amount of time with someone other than your husband/wife are practices of adultery. However, Jesus’ definition goes deeper than that.

27 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5:27-28

Indeed, if you look deeper into the term, you’ll discover that aside from physical adultery, there are five other forms:

  1. Emotional Adultery is typically a “we’re just friends” kind of relationship. If you and your spouse are struggling through an issue and you go to a friend of the opposite sex for any manner of emotional consolation, you are committing emotional adultery.
  2. Energetic Adultery involves fantasizing about another person other than your spouse; searching for and looking at pictures of someone you are attracted to including pornography; having inappropriate thoughts about a person of the opposite sex other than your spouse.
  3. Mental Adultery is a very hazardous form of adultery. Sure, you might not actually hook up with another girl or guy, but if you let your mind carry out such desires, your heart will tend to follow. See Mark 7:21-23.
  4. Visual Adultery is characterised, or illustrated by the word “lust“. It’s important to understand that it’s not a sin to notice that a person other than your spouse is attractive. However, if you intentionally seek to look for or at another person, thus fostering an attraction, you are committing adultery.
  5. Spiritual Adultery: God wants us to love Him over all else. Spiritual adultery occurs when we love the things or the people of this earth more than we love Him. See James 4:4-5.

18A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 19But Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 20You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not give false testimony, Honor your father and mother.’”

Luke 18:18-20

Homosexuals

Yes, sex is about two bodies being joined together. But sex as God designed it is much much more. Sex is also two souls being bound together on a profound level. Sex unites two people physically, emotionally and spiritually.
God’s picture of healthy sexuality is a man and woman belonging exclusively to each other in marriage. This provides a safe environment for both of them to physically give themselves to each other as an act of love, free from fear, insecurity and shame.

How To Enjoy Sex the Way God Designed, Leela Zander 

Directly linked to sexual immorality and adultery is homosexuality. As is detailed in Genesis, God made Adam on the sixth day and later formed Eve out of his side during His Creation of the world.

28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 1:28

Our bodies are made to reproduce, a miracle that can only naturally occur between a man and a woman. When this perfectly designed natural union is compromised, sin abounds.

Since breaking God’s ordinance in the Garden of Eden through pride, sin has reigned over humanity. Sicknesses such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are one of many consequences of humanity’s betrayal. Although STDs can occur in natural sexual unions (between a man and a woman), diseases “—like HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea—” are significantly higher in homosexual and bisexual relationships.

4Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.

Hebrews 13:4

Thievery

One woman who shoplifted for years before being apprehended jokingly referred to herself as a “consumer representative.” She took orders from friends, stole the items they “ordered,” then sold the merchandise at a significant discount. She maintained that shoplifting was the one skill she had that others appreciated. She said her parents seldom praised her but her “customers” did.

Explanations and Excuses for Stealing?

Within the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai during the Israelite’s Exodus from Egypt, we’re told:

15 You shall not steal.

Exodus 20:15

We see in Proverbs 30:9 that theft is a sin that grieves God. Excuses like, “I had no other choice”, or “I only took it because I needed it to survive” don’t cut it. God also warns us not to have sympathy for thieves who try to justify their crimes.

30People do not despise a thief if he steals

To satisfy himself when he is hungry;

31But when he is found, he must repay seven times as much;

He must give up all the property of his house.

Proverbs 6:30-31

It’s not just the thief that will bear the punishment for their sins. If you know a thief, or details regarding theft and neglect to testify, you’re just as guilty under God’s Law; theft is one of the Ultimate Evils.

5 ‘Now if a person sins after he hears a public order to testify when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his punishment.

Leviticus 5:1

So, If you appropriate, procure and withhold something that doesn’t belong to you, or if you know a thief and don’t report them, you’ve committed theft. From the robbery of a bank to deliberately arriving to work or school late (as we don’t own time, we don’t have the right to misuse it), unrepentant thieves won’t inherit eternity in paradise.

Greedy/Covetousness

Life is not about getting more. (Luke 12:15; Eccl. 4:8 6:7; ) The desire for more can keep us from getting to know God and His ways. (Psalms 119:36-37) The greedy and the covetous don’t go to heaven. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

5Therefore, treat the parts of your earthly body as dead to sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

36What does it benefit a person to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Colossians 3:5; Mark 8:36

On the National Christian Foundation (NFC) website, we see that greed or covetousness is a sin fostered by us all.

New Testament Greek scholar William Barclay describes pleonexia as an “accursed love of having,” which “will pursue its own interests with complete disregard for the rights of others, and even for the considerations of common humanity.”

Wealth, greed, and a biblical view of self-interest, National Christian Foundation

It’s important to note that greed and self-interest are different things.

…it is not from the benevolence [kindness, goodwill] of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

The Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith, 1776 

So you see, most people have to work to make a living for themselves, their family, and their communities. In this sense, self-interest can either lead us into selfishness and greed with our wealth and time or, as the Bible teaches, it can drive us to become practical and contributing members to and of God’s family.

Drunkards

During the dawning history of human civilisation, the Hebrews understood and appreciated alcohol as a gift from God. Indeed, Noah (נוּחַ), whose name means rest or comfort, was a man who was blameless in the eyes of the Lord, was the first human to cultivate vineyards and produce wine to remedy human suffering in the fallen world.

Although God used Noah to save humanity from destruction, Israelite historiography accredits him with the discovery of wine.

So, the drinking of wine or other alcoholic beverages is not in and of itself evil. However, getting drunk is.

20Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. 21He drank some of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent.

Genesis 9:20-21

The sinfulness and foolishness regarding drunkenness are repeated and well illustrated in the story of Lot and his daughters.

32Come, let’s make our father drink wine, and let’s sleep with him so that we may keep our family alive through our father.” 33So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and slept with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or got up. 34On the following day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Look, I slept last night with my father; let’s make him drink wine tonight too, then you go in and sleep with him, so that we may keep our family alive through our father.”

Genesis 19:32-34

We also see in Proverbs 20:1 that,

20Wine is a mocker and strong drink a brawler; whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.

Proverbs 20:1

The most intelligence any of us can possess is looking to God and relying on Him for everything. Status, awards and achievements are not qualities becoming of true wisdom. God doesn’t have a problem with us having a drink or two, but if we allow ourselves to be intoxicated, we give ourselves over to destruction.

Verbal Abuse

“A victim of verbal abuse may not see or recognise the abuser’s behaviour as abusive. Instead, they often develop coping mechanisms – including denial and minimising – to deal with the abuse.”

Verbal abuse is a kind of battering which doesn’t leave evidence comparable to the bruises of physical battering. You (or your friend) may be suffering in silence and isolation…The victim of verbal abuse lives in a gradually more confusing realm. In public, the victim is with one person. While in private, the abuser may become a completely different person.

Verbal Abuse, Kirby Anderson, Probe Ministries

In God’s Word, verbal abuse is any careless word said to anybody. Verbal abuse is anything you communicate with your mouth to provoke, stir up strife or division. Again, verbal abuse is anything harsh or bitter, corrupt or unwholesome, you say to your spouse or any other person.

29Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any good word for edification according to the need of the moment, say that, so that it will give grace to those who hear it.

Ephesians 4:29

It’s important to note that being submissive in a marital relationship doesn’t mean you are to allow yourself to be verbally beaten down by your partner. Notice that when Paul teaches the wives in the church of Ephesus to be submissive to their husbands, he includes “as to the Lord.” This automatically instructs husbands to love their wives in the same way as Christ – absolutely.

22Wives, subject yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord….” 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27that He might present to Himself the church Lit gloriousin all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30because we are parts of His body”

Ephesians 5:22, 25-30

Submission is about loving obedience, not the allowance of abuse or of defenselessness. Verbal abuse is an ancient and challenging problem, but there is hope if the abuser is prepared to confront their sin and receive guidance from a Christ committed follower.

Added to this, the apostle Peter tells husbands and wives to have mutual love and pure respect. Husbands are to treat their wives with tenderness and affection. As avowed under God, they are joint heirs to eternal life.

1In the same way, you wives, be subject to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won over without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2as they observe your pure and respectful behavior.

7You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vesselsince she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

1 Peter 3:1-2, 7

Swindlers

I’m sure you’ve either heard of or suffered from a swindler sometime in your life; I know I have. A swindler is “a dishonest person who uses clever means to cheat others out of something of value”. On the two occasions it’s used in the Bible, to swindle accompanies the evil deeds of the “crooked”, the “greedy”, and of “idolaters”. In this fallen world, wherever there’s money, there’re swindlers.

In the Bible, another term used for swindle is to defraud. If you flip to Mark 10:19, you’ll see Jesus listing some of the Ten Commandments given to the people of Israel. Notice, though, that Jesus exchanges “you shall not covet” with “you shall not defraud”. Jesus desired the man to use his wealth, a gift from God, to help the poor. Thus we see that Jesus classified the man’s reluctance to give graciously as fraud; he was a swindler.

So, how many of the above sins are you guilty of? If you were to die right this second, will you inherit eternal life? If you sighed and said “no”, you’ll be pleased to hear that there’s a way out.

 11Such 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

Paul had heard, seen or experienced the high levels of sinful behaviours found throughout the city and communities of Corinth. As you read through chapter 6, verse 11, what word sticks out to you?

While reading through Scripture, any repeated words or themes are done to make us pause, reread, and investigate why. Here, the repeated phrase is the conjunction, or linking word, of “but“. It can effectively be replaced with “except”. Here, Paul is encouraging the Corinthian believers. But, unfortunately, some of them were guilty of these sins, making them unrighteous and unacceptable under the Law of Moses illustrated in the Torah of the Old Testament.

Similarly to Jesus’ rebuttal to the objection from the Pharisees,

24Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.

John 8:24

Paul assures these people and all of us today that after being washed, sanctified, and justified through Jesus Christ, the eternal penalties for their former lifestyles and sinful behaviour have been paid in full.

It is finished” indeed.

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