Friday, 27 June 2014
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 Corinthians 6:11
Referring to his list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God, Paul now shows the immensity of the work of Christ, even for people who have committed such acts against Him as were mentioned in the previous two verses. He begins with, “And such were some of you.” Pick from the wicked things on this list and it may have indeed applied to any of those in Corinth. And thus, the same thought gives hope to such offenders today.
But without understanding the nature of sin, its hard to contemplate exactly what this means for each and every person in Christ. James says that “…whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). Paul is taking the most notorious offenses and highlighting them, but James shows that any infraction of God’s law breaks the entire law, and thus we are all condemned before God. Because of this, looking down on another for whatever their sin was must be excluded.
Next Paul says, “But you were washed.” Jamieson-Fausset-Brown states, “The Greek middle voice expresses, ‘Ye have had yourselves washed.'” The tense here varies from the next two points that Paul will make, and this is not by accident. It is showing that receiving the Holy Spirit is something that must be accomplished by us through an act of faith.
We are not “regenerated in order to believe” as reformed theologians claim. The Bible, time and again, shows that we must receive Christ voluntarily; this verse shows that to be true. The Pulpit Commentary notes that, “The very object of Christ’s death had been that he might cleanse his Church “by the washing of water by the Word.” Therefore, receiving Jesus is not “a work” that merits something, but rather it is the necessary action that we must take in order to receive the gift.
In the receiving of His work, we wash ourselves by the Spirit. This then leads to Paul’s next two points which say, “but you were sanctified, but you were justified.” The normal order of these two points is reversed. According to Paul in Romans we are “justified” and then we go through the process of “sanctification.” However, this is not speaking about the progressive sanctification that occurs in a believer’s life. Instead, it is the “setting apart” or “consecrating” of the individual to God. It is a done deal.
Despite the state of maturity (all new believers are immature) and despite the lack of knowledge about Godly things (in which most new believers are deficient), they have been set apart by God as sanctified. This is a clear indication of the doctrine of eternal salvation. What God has sanctified is forever so.
A point of note in Paul’s words is that the word “alla” or “but” is repeated for each of these points. In this, it indicates a special emphasis on each part of the process; the words can be taken as emphatic. You “have washed yourselves;” you “are sanctified;” and you “are justified.” And, it was done “in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
Salvation is accomplished “in the name of the Lord Jesus” and by no other. Only He came in the flesh to redeem us from our sins and to purify us with His shed blood. Nobody, outside of His bestowed grace, can be saved. And the action is accomplished “by the Spirit of our God.” The Holy Spirit is the one who performs the actions when a believer calls out to the Lord. The moment they do, they are sealed with the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 14), and are given the guarantee of eternal life. They are sanctified in Christ, and they are justified in Christ.
Albert Barnes notes that, “This verse brings in the whole subject of redemption, and states in a most emphatic manner the various stages by which a sinner is saved, and by this single passage, a man may obtain all the essential knowledge of the plan of salvation.” When one bears the weight of sin committed after coming to Christ and feels that they may have lost what they once received, all they need to do is return to this verse and contemplate it. It contains that wonderful assurance that we are saved despite ourselves.
Life application: This verse asks us to look back on who we once were and to conduct our futures with humility, gratitude, and to carry in our hearts deep thankfulness for the grace and mercy of God who took what was ignoble and purified it for Himself.
Lord Jesus, you took the clay jar that was broken and dirty and set it apart for yourself. You made it right and cleaned it up so that it could be used for something noble and good. And even today, the jar is changing as You bring it to an appearance never even imagined. You have done the marvelous! Thank You, O God for repairing me and placing me in Your heavenly home. Amen.