You Will Go to Hell
Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals1, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9b-10.)
A professing Christian husband and father leaves his wife of thirty years for a young woman the age of his daughter. A Sunday School teacher is obsessed with his favourite sports team, going into short term debt to make trips all over the country to watch his team play. A college student heavily involved with the local collegiate ministry regularly has sexual intercourse with his girlfriend. A young man attends church regularly but frequents gay bars, looking for gay men, and goes home with them. A seeming loving and well adjusted lesbian couple, who know the Bible well, claim to love Jesus. An elder in a church regularly cheats on his income tax and steals money from his company. A young mother who teaches children’s church constantly badgers her husband for a bigger house, a nicer car, better clothing and runs up huge credit card bills trying to satiate her covetous and idolatrous lifestyle. A pastor preaches fine sermons but drinks himself drunk every night. The point man for your church plant becomes dissatisfied with the pastor’s performance and slanders him, sowing seeds of discord among the brethren, finally splitting the church and driving the pastor out of town. And the biggest giver to your church, a man well respected for his work as a financial planner is convicted of a ponzi scheme which cheated people out of millions of dollars.
What do these professing Christians have in common? They are all going to hell! ‘Wait a second Al. Aren’t you going too far? Don’t we all struggle with sin, perhaps even the ones you mention here? What about “once saved, always saved?” What about passages like, “And I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish” (John 10:28). “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). “Nothing shall separate us from the love of God” (Rom. 8:38-39).’ I know. They are wonderful, aren’t they? But then what about, ‘For this you know with certainty, that no immoral, or impure person, or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God’ (Eph. 5:5). ‘For if we go on sinning wilfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries’ (Heb. 10:26-27). ‘Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you were saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain’ (1 Cor. 15:1-2). Yes the sovereignty of God in eternal salvation is a glorious truth, but you must always keep this in tension with man’s responsibility.2 In other words, a professing Christian who lives unrepentantly in sexual immorality, impurity, or covetousness will go to hell. Any professing believer who goes on sinning wilfully, blatantly, brazenly, without remorse, failing to bring forth fruits of genuine repentance (Matt. 3:8) will go to hell.
Paul is not saying that if anyone has ever committed adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, etc. then he is hopeless and will go to hell. Not at all! Praise God. Hallelujah! What a Saviour! He goes on to say that such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:11). God has saved and transformed many such people over the years. Maybe you are one of those who have been washed, justified, and sanctified. But the apostles, the prophets, and the Lord Jesus himself all say that a professing believer who lives in unrepentant sin is lost and on the road to perdition (Isa. 5:14, Ezek. 32:21, 2 Thess. 1:8-9, Matt. 7:21-23; 11:23).
Surely this evokes fear and concern for all who read these words! If not, then you are really in trouble. If so, then there is hope for you. But if you are calling yourself a Christian and sin consciously, wilfully, brazenly, and unrepentantly, and if you persist to live this way, then you will go to hell! Your profession of faith means nothing. You are deceiving yourself. A true believer will make progress in gospel holiness.
What then must you, as a professing believer, do to keep yourself from hell? The writer to the Hebrews says, ‘Let us encourage3 one another day after day, as long as it is still called today, lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin’ (Heb. 3:13). Indwelling sin and the temptation of the world, the flesh, and the devil are constantly at work in us, causing us to believe that repentance is easy, that God is all grace and mercy, that God is never angry with his children, that a decision for Jesus is all that matters, that working out one’s salvation with fear and trembling is not in the Bible, that one can sing about Jesus and talk about Jesus while living in abject rebellion against his law and still go to heaven. Not going to happen! You need someone in your life who will ask you the hard questions, who will ‘get in your face’, who will not let you get away with anything. And you need this person every day. Not once a week. Not once a month, but every day you live. Why? You have an amazing ability to deceive yourself, to convince yourself that you are above the Law of God, that you ought to have that other woman because your wife is not ‘meeting your needs,’ that you can steal from your company because it is not paying you what you are worth, that your absentee father drove you to drunkenness and that you cannot help it. It you do not have that person who, like Nehemiah, will pronounce curses upon you, who will pull your hair out, who will pummel you (Neh. 13:25) when you fall into the folly of sin (Psa. 85:8, Prov. 5:23) then you could be lost forever (Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-39). In other words, you need someone in your life who will practically work in you the fear of God, someone who will say, ‘What are doing? Have you lost your mind? Do you understand what this relationship with the other woman will do to your wife, your children, and your eternal destiny?’4 Do you have someone like this in your life? If not, then get one quickly! Men, this is particularly necessary for you. Women tend to have women in their lives, but men tend not to have men in theirs.
And what if you presently are living in unrepentant sin? You must repent now! Repentance is not merely saying you are sorry for your ‘mistake.’ True biblical repentance means grief and sorrow for sin against a holy God. It means confession, contrition, and restitution. A man who lives with his adulteress and continues to go to church gives no evidence of true faith. He will leave the woman and go back to his wife (if she has not already divorced him) or he will go to hell when he dies. ‘Be sober minded as you ought and stop sinning for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame’ (1 Cor. 15:34).
- The first term translated homosexual is malakoi and relates to men or boys who allow themselves to be misused homosexually. This word connotes passivity and submission. The second word translated sodomites is arsenokoitai and it refers to men who initiate homosexual practices. (Simon Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: First Corinthians, page 188.)
- See A.W. Pink’s Exposition of Hebrews, volume one, page 167.
- The Greek word here is parakaleo and means to call to one’s side, to appeal to, to urge, to exhort, to encourage. (Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich, A Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, page 622.)
- [added] See, for example, Iain H. Murray, John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 2011), p. 39
Rev. Allen M Baker is Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in West Hartford, Connecticut.
If you would like to respond to Pastor Baker, please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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