Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Tremaine Hawkins' powerful church anthem "Changed" [scroll down to listen] effectively captured the essence of the scripture cited above. Anyone who has truly experienced the radical power of Jesus Christ to take you from what you were enslaved to and transform your mess into a message knows that Hawkins' "Changed" sums it the experience.
Unfortunately, many people focus on the individuals in the church who are yet disobedient, walking in sin and living according to the flesh. Its clear that unless a change comes, they will be blocked from entrance into the kingdom of God.
But in what is probably one of the most underrated scriptures in the New Testament, the Bible acknowledges and celebrates those who used to be sinners but through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ are now clean. The list is by no means complete, but it specifically points out:
Many areas that the apostle traveled to take the gospel indeed were very accepting of homosexuality, yet he did not back away from communicating the sinfulness of such practices. The urban areas of Corinth, Ephesus, Rome and other major cities of the ancient world, were all too often cesspools of sexual immorality of all types. Undeterred, Paul drew from sources familiar to him and forged them with New Testament teachings of God's grace to forgive and cleanse. Particularly, within the Corinthian church were all types of individuals who had been won out of the culture through the preaching of the Gospel. Contrary to accusations that the Apostle Paul was "homophobic" and a "misogynist" and other derogatory names leveled against him by homosexual affirming detractors of the Bible, he was very aware of the conditions individuals had come out of. His keen sense of culture led him to coin words to describe what he knew to be occuring.
He also broke new ground in declaring that he was also aware of those who had changed. Why? Because the supernatural power of the blood of Jesus Christ is able to cleanse and wash away the stain of sin. And yes, it washes away the stain of homosexual sin. This is the only passage of scripture which clearly acknowledges former homosexuals in the church. They are listed along with other ex-sinners who have been changed. It is certain that Pastor Paul knew there were former homosexuals in his local church and he celebrated their freedom in Christ Jesus. With a completely different tone in comparison to the volume of harsh, negative reaction to the unrepentant homosexual, scripture here ends with the tremendous hope of goodness of God towards mankind.
Through this the Bible sends a message to every leader in the church: never celebrate sin, always celebrate change.