For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
It seems like there are less and less things you can be sure of. What once was a given has been upended and made into something altogether different. What was once certain has been made uncertain. What once was solid has been made into Silly Putty.
This is especially true when it comes to morality: what’s right and wrong. There used to be a firm understanding of right and wrong. What was acceptable and unacceptable. What was good and what was bad.
It’s like that speech in Wall Street where Gordon Gekko says those immortal words, “Greed is good.” And as documented in The New Yorker, “we’ve become considerably more relaxed about premarital sex, gay sex”. In Esther Perels’ book, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, she writes that we need “a more nuanced and less judgmental conversation about infidelity.”
When we’re told that we can be sure, it’s known without needing to watch a YouTube or TikTok video. It’s so obvious that everyone knows it inside. And what’s this thing that we can be sure of?
We can be absolutely certain that someone who has given their life to Christ will desperately want to please God with all their heart. We can go to the bank on that truth. Period.
And why can we be sure of that? Because when we realize that Jesus gave himself up for us, we want to respond and give ourselves over to him. Our loving reply to his death on the cross will be to voluntarily give ourselves to him.
Working to be like him.
Wanting to obey him.
Willing to do anything for him.
Yes, we all fail. Yes, we all sin. Yes, we are in need of ongoing confession and forgiveness.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8,9
This verse isn't just talking about a slip and fall, where we get back up. It’s talking about purposefully getting down and rolling in the mud and filth of sin for a long time. It’s when we purposefully make our home in the immorality, impurity, or greediness of life.
And what happens when we stray from wanting to be like Jesus? Where do we wind up when we consistently choose against the one who loves us? We move into the land of idolatry where anyone, or anything, is moved to the center of our lives. God is thrown off his rightful throne and replaced with a cheap, dirty imitation.
This is when “is” becomes “is.” “Is” can be used for just a change, but that’s not what’s being described here. It’s not moving from one room to another, only to return. This “is” is when you pick up and move to another town. You put down roots. You make new friends. You create new habits.
When you’ve made the move to the land of idolatry, you’ve put down roots. And not just surface roots, but roots that go deep into bedrock. It’s not a passing thing. No, it’s a thing that has grabbed hold of you by the throat.
Anyone who’s consistently living in idolatry can’t be a Jesus follower at the very same time. You’re one or the other. You’re in one camp or the other. You can’t be a registered Republican and Democrat at the same time. You’re one or the other.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering about people that have walked away from Jesus. But the truth is that anyone who permanently leaves the faith is demonstrating that they were never truly a Christian.
They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
1 John 2:19
They might have shown some change, but that was a show. They were never born again by the power of God.
The good news is that there is still time. There is still hope. Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. So, what’s stopping you from calling?
How do we try and soften this?
What are we willing to excuse from the list of immoral, impure, or greedy?
Which one do you most struggle with? Why do you think it’s tough for you?