Answers from the Word

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 "Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
This week we will look at another part of my friend's question, "How does God's absolute sovereignty relate to the sins of fornication and sodomy? Is God's Law absolute or do we get to equivocate, pick and choose which sins we tolerate and which ones we forbid?"
Many years ago, before I started teaching in Missouri Public Education, I argued with another student about the intrinsic nature of some immoral lifestyles. I adamantly maintained that people's behavior was based exclusively on personal choice. Soon after the heated dispute, I graduated from college and started teaching.
Now, more than 40 years later, I am no longer certain my early opinion was correct. Throughout my 31-year tenure, I watched early manifestations of every sin that St. Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11... little kids who lied when the truth was easier, cheaters who would eventually grow up to be thieves and adulterers, those who were greedy, others who were abusers, and doubtless all the rest mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
I marveled at these little eight, nine, and ten-year-old students who already exhibited the proto-sins that the apostle said would never enter heaven. On one hand, these precious little angels were so incredibly innocent, but on the other, they were already predisposed by their inherited nature.
Struggling to understand, I questioned God and also what I previously believed.
In response, God showed me a most amazing passage of Scripture, "So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands." Jeremiah 18:3-4
As an allegory, the prophet saw the potter crafting a vessel, just like God makes us. But, since the clay was already "marred in his hands," the Creator was literally forming the original pot with an allowed imperfection. But for what purpose? Why not simply make His creation right the first time?
Let's keep reading in order to learn a priceless lesson about ourselves and others.
"...So the potter formed (reformed) it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, 'Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?' declares the Lord. 'Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.'" Jeremiah 18:4-6
Suddenly, I got it! Jeremiah's encounter at the potter's house was an illustration of humble submission to our Creator. God allowed every single one of us to be born with predispositions or pre-inclinations that are contrary to His perfect will. Some of us probably already recognize the personal traits that have marred our lives from the beginning. But I promise that if you have not seen your original "flaw," other people around you have! But don't feel alone because they probably have their original blemishes too. God placed those unsightly traits in our lives as "ugly gifts" that we commit to Him as a token of humble surrender in order to gain the beautiful likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Isaiah described the mismatched exchange this way, "To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." Isaiah 61:3
At the potter's house, God told Jeremiah, "See, I can do the very same thing with you that I do to this pot when I remake it." However, we must willingly submit to the new transformation in God's perfect image. Like a clay pot spinning on a wheel, the process is not instantaneous. The clay vessel must remain soft/submissive until the subsequent reconstruction is complete. And for most of us, God's re-creation continues for the rest of our lives, regardless of what our original predisposition/pre-inclination was. The ordeal is not easy, but it distinguishes us as priceless vessels made for glory rather than crude deformed pots marked for destruction, "When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn't he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction." Romans 9:21-22
God leaves the option to us, "Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster." Deuteronomy 30:15
We can either defiantly cherish/protect the original flaw that marks us for destruction and death, or we can submit to His noble plan, surrender our lives to be renewed, allow the predisposed blemish to be removed, and patiently accept the perfect likeness of Christ Who prayed, "Not my will, but thine be done." Luke 22:42
Except for God's saving grace through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, there is not a speck of difference between any of us, as St. Paul asserted in 1 Corinthians 6:11, "You (the Church) were once like that (the vessels marked for destruction). But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
Thus, sin is sin! We cannot equivocate, pick and choose between our predispositions, tolerate some pre-inclinations while forbidding others. Every flaw mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 will send us straight to a burning Hell if we refuse to be remade in God's perfect image through Jesus Christ, our Lord!
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