1 Corinthians 6:8-11 / Experientially Unrighteous Christians will NOT Inherit the Kingdom of God
The Pulpit is continuing with its emphasis on Lordship Salvation, and has a new entry by Matthew Waymeyer:
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and the Lordship Debate (Notice that he does not give any consideration to the context by not including the critical verse 8 in his article!)
Here is a brief consideration of 1 Corinthians 6:8-11 in response to Matthew Waymeyer and Lordship Salvation.
As far as any Greek lexicon I have ever viewed, notwithstanding all English dictionaries I have consulted, there stands a great gulf of difference between the ideas of "inherit" and "enter".
It is clear and plain reasoning to see the difference between merely living in a house and owning it or ruling over a city and being a mere citizen there.
Let us continue:
1 Cor 6:7-11
8 No, you yourselves do wrong [adikeo] and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 9 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, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Notice the verb "do wrong". This is the Greek verb for unrighteous activity, unrighteousness (adikeo). The Corinthian Christians were "doing unrighteousness" and this to their Christian brothers, for goodness sake! This point cannot be overemphasized. Paul characterized the Corinthian believers (see 1 Cor 6:11) as experientially unrighteous. This is a severe indictment which necessitates a strong warning which Paul is about to give.
The next part serves as a warning to the Christian readers in Corinth! After charging them with "doing unrighteousness", Paul says that "unrighteous" (anarthrous construction, IOW, those who are experientially characterized by doing unrighteousness) will not inherit the kingdom of God, using the same Greek word in its noun form for "unrighteous".
Paul is saying, “You Corinthians are performing unrighteousness, cheating, and doing it to your own Christian brothers! Don’t do this! Because don’t you know that the individuals who can be experientially characterized as unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom?”
The word that Paul uses here (vs 8 “do wrong” Greek: adikeo) is the verbal cognate of the substantival anarthrous “unrighteous” (Greek: adikos) of verse 9.
The relationship of the verse 8 “adikeo” (the cause for indictment) to the following verse 9 anarthrous “adikos” (warning of consequence to the born again Corinthians) cannot be overemphasized.
Whereas Paul speaks of the unregenerate in 1 Cor 6:1 as THE (articular) unrighteous, Paul warns those born again Corinthian believers (see verse 11), who are experientially unrighteous, that the experientially, characteristically (anarthrous) unrighteous (not the articular) will not inherit the kingdom of God.
If what Matthew has proposed is true, imagine the impact of this warning:
“Don’t you know that the unsaved will go to hell…?”
I submit that this would neither be a warning nor something that would even cause the Corinthians to give a second thought!
If inherit = enter in this passage, the warning to the Corinthian Christians who were "doing unrighteousness" would be of no effect, for they are Christians and guaranteed heaven (see verse 11)!
As a matter of fact, the warning would only be effective (viewed from the Lordship Salvation proponent perspective) if heaven was attained by a perseverance in holiness and works, which in fact, Lordship theology unashamedly proclaims:
"...we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith." (John Piper "TULIP: What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism...", pg 25)
The idea that faith produces perseverant works until the end of life is foreign to this passage. It is something that the Lordship Salvationist must import into this text. Paul puts out the idea of reward here, inheriting the kingdom. The passage is abundantly clear that a perseverance in holiness is a necessary condition for the reward. The texts that hold out ownership, inheritance, and rulership in the kingdom explicitly condition such on faithfulness and a perseverance in overcoming works. Whereas Jesus is abundantly clear that “seeing” and “entering” the kingdom is received by faith alone (John 3:3, 5ff).
Inheriting the kingdom is based on perseverance in faith and faithfulness, while merely entering and seeing the kingdom is based upon faith alone in Christ alone.
Let us continue:
Is Paul addressing unsaved people in this passage? That idea just cannot pan out.
He is talking specifically and only to believers:
1 Cor 6:4-8
4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! 7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!
Paul is clearly saying that the believing Corinthian Christians are to be SHAMED for
1) Not taking their petty matters before the brethren and
2) Not allowing themselves to be cheated in the first place and
3)Performing unrighteousness ("do wrong") and cheating their brethren.
The Corinthian believers are being rebuked by Paul for their unrighteous activities! The following becomes a WARNING to those who are "doing unrighteousness":
1 Cor 6:9-10
9 Do you not know that [I have removed the article for this is a anarthrous construction, meaning those who are characterized by unrighteous behavior and NOT a specific designation of people] unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul says "You Corinthian believers are performing unrighteousness and cheating your fellow believers! Didn't you know that those characterized by unrighteous activity will not inherit the kingdom of God?"
The warning loses all force and becomes absurd if it is addressing unbelievers. First, to state such, would go against the clear statements of the text addressing it to believers! Next, we are faced with the problem of it implying this:
Eternal life, entering the kingdom of God, no longer is appropriated free by faith alone in Christ alone. It now becomes a contract that a man has to quit the nasty nine and dirty dozen before He can be saved. Paul in Galatians (in the parallel passage) even adds more petty offenses: outbursts of wrath, jealousy, selfish ambition, and envy.
What kind of warning is this supposed to be?
"Do you not know that if you sin too much you go to hell? Don't you know that if you sin too much that you truly aren't a Christian? You need to get saved! The first thing that you need to do is to stop your unrighteous activity and start living righteously!" This my friends is works-salvation, works-righteousness.
Why wouldn't Paul instead say, "Those of you so-called Christians who are acting unrighteously, you need to get saved! You are on your way to hell! You have yet to believe the gospel! You need to 1) repent 2) submit 3) count the cost 4) give up all in your life, etc…(the multitude of Traditionalism's requirements for one to actually step foot in heaven)"
The plain, simple, and clear message is that the Corinthian believers were acting unrighteously, and Paul states that those Christians whose lives are characterized by unrighteousness will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Jesus is clear in John 3 that believing in Christ is the sole requirement for entering, seeing the kingdom of God.
Paul is clear that perseverance in practical righteousness is required for inheriting the kingdom of God.
One is by grace through faith.
The other is by perseverance in works and faithfulness.
Let us look quickly at 1 Cor 6:11:
The warning that we have been looking at is addressed to those of whom Paul could acknowledge, "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 Cor 6:11).
1 Cor 6:8
8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!
Paul is emphatic here in the Greek. "you yourselves", the pronoun, is emphatic! (Paul is saying "I am not talking about unbelievers or wordlings, but of you SAME individuals who WERE washed, sanctified, and justified!)
Has the "you" changed!? It would be some kind of miracle if it did!
"YOU YOURSELVES do wrong (adikeite) and cheat" (vs 8)
"Do you not know that wrong doers (unrighteous - adikoi) will not inherit the kingdom of God?" (vs 9)
We must pay close attention to pronouns and their antecedents.
Paul is thus asserting:
1) That those who have been justified, sanctified, and washed from their old sins may "do wrong" (perform unrighteousness - adikeite) and were doing it! and
2) that "wrong doers" (adikoi) shall not inherit the kingdom!
The SAME GROUP OF PEOPLE IS BEING ADDRESSED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE PASSAGE!
Nowhere in this text is the unbeliever addressed, on the contrary, it is only the believer who is addressed!
And since the believer "does wrong", or performs unrighteousness, would he not consider himself unsaved?
In the Traditionalist, Calvinist system, how could any warning be of value to the born-again Christian when by virtue of their regeneration they will by necessity persevere?
The warnings are at best superfluous, and at worst, extremely dangerous, causing born again people to doubt if they are saved and continue to seek eternal life by their persevering works.
The Corinthians, in whom Paul is addressing, were sanctified, washed, and justified. These same people were performing unrighteousness. Paul warns these justified Corinthian believers that they will fail to inherit the kingdom of God if their lives are characterized by "doing wrong".
This is the simply clear flow and understanding of the passage.
The Lordship Salvation advocates do harm to communication in general and the passage in specific when they import their theology into the text rather than see Paul's plain statements for what they are.
Paul is speaking pastorally here and has no thought for the unsaved in his exhortation here whatsoever. His warning is to "you, yourselves" who had been “do[ing] wrong” (Greek: adikeo), who nevertheless were justified, sanctified, and washed. The warning is specifically and only to them!
Lordship proponents are playing around with the communication here! Their theology does not accept the clear meaning of the text and so it becomes the ridiculous and absurd notion that the warnings do not contain any penalty whatsoever to the TRUE Christian, but are MERELY goads to move them to perseverance!
What becomes the result of someone who is unsaved, who thought they believed unto salvation, but whose life is characterized by unrighteous deeds? The warnings don't tell them to instead fully trust in Christ for salvation, but to expend every effort to persevere in their works!
“The unsavory descriptions in Paul’s list of vices had fit many of the Corinthians in their unsaved days. But God had mercifully washed their past away as He sanctified and justified them by His saving grace. Their past, therefore, no longer stood as a barier to heirship in God’s Kingdom.
But the present could, and this is Paul’s point. ‘The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God,’ he insists, and he has just charged them with behaving unrighteously” (Zane Clark Hodges, Grace in Eclipse, 77, emphasis mine).
Paul is clear. A perseverance in holiness and works is a necessary meritorious condition for inheriting the kingdom of God.