By Stuart Powell
As Christians, we must choose how to express ourselves. We all are tempted to display the sins in our relationships with people inside and outside of the faith. Paul wrote about this battle in his letter to the believers in Corinth:
Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this way. 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 6:9-11, New English Translation).
Paul wrote to people well-acquainted with the temptations he listed. His words are stinging reminders of broken pasts we all share.
However, Paul was not intent on digging up their past failures. He sought to highlight what God accomplished in the lives of those believers. Paul used three words to measure God’s work: washed, sanctified, and justified. Because of God’s actions, the believers no longer lived in sin. Because we are washed, sanctified, and justified, our faith begs us to express our lives differently than we have in the past. Some of us may be struggling with sins Paul mentioned. We need to remember that God has already empowered us to overcome the temptations that seek to drag us back into our sinful past.
How did God accomplish such a great change in our lives? Through the cross of Jesus. Because of Jesus’ willingness to take our punishment, and through his endurance of the pain and shame poured out by Rome, every Christian is a member of this same fellowship: washed, sanctified, and justified.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.