One of the most popular features on daytime T.V. is the "Make-Over".
They take someone from the audience and re-do their clothes, hair, make-up and transform them into a new person. It's the thing we like about movie stars, the fact that they have the money and talent to re-invent themselves in different characters and styles from year to year. The great attraction to these makeovers, of course, is that within a few minutes a person can seemingly change their entire "look" and be a different person.
Now they have extreme makeover with plastic surgery for a more dramatic change. It doesn't take a Ph.D. to figure out that even if the outside is new it's the same old person on the inside and if we could follow the person away from the studio into their regular lives, the things that were on the inside of them will eventually creep through and return them to feeling and looking like the used to look on the outside before the miracle makeover.
This is not to say that transformation into a dramatic "new you" is not impossible, just that it isn't achieved with make-up, clothes diets, or even plastic surgery.
In 1st Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul talks about a radical change that is possible and permanent and describes the three steps that lead to this New You".
The Old You
9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
- I Corinthians 6:9-10
Of course, Paul is dealing with what people are on the inside because inside change leads to outside change and only inside change is permanent change. The outside can be altered or improved but it always deteriorates. Paul deals with changes in the areas that affect us permanently.
He begins by describing the "old" you, the before picture, the state in which his hearers were before he found them with the gospel.
Now this list is not meant to be a complete list of all the possible sins of mankind. It is a representation of the type of sins that these Corinthians were involved in before their spiritual makeover. He mentioned the following:
- Fornication - The broad term for improper sexual conduct between unmarried people.
- Idolatry - Worship of pagan gods and the activities related to this.
- Adulterers - those who are unfaithful to their marriages in a sexual way.
- Effeminate - Original Greek word meant soft, the English word effeminate suggests transvestite or crossdresser but the Greek has a wider meaning to include all forms of sexual perversion including transvestites, pornography and lewd behavior (Playboy Philosophy).
- Homosexuals - Again this word does not appear in the Greek and the Bible doesn't honor this practice with its own name like the English language does.
It refers to the practice of men having sex with other men, and by extension women with women.
- Thieves - Those who steal.
- Covetous - Those who are greedy, lustful.
The sin of wanting what is forbidden or never being satisfied with what you have.
- Drunkards - Those addicted to alcohol or addicted to any substance.
- Revilers - Comes from a Greek word "to abuse or to rail".
- Hatemongers, verbal and physical abusers, slanderers, etc.
- Swindlers - Cheaters, liars, con men, dishonest in business.
Note that there are 10 sins mentioned to represent sin in general (#10 represented wholeness or completeness in Jewish numerology). Note also that these ten stand side-by-side equal in their sinfulness and power to condemn.
God sees homosexuality in the same light as abuse or fornication or lying - it's all evil and sinful. Paul says that the Corinthians were some of these things and as a result were denied the kingdom of heaven.
In other words these sins will keep a person out of heaven and send them to hell (one means the other). We tend to make a distinction between acceptable and unacceptable sin but the Bible tells us that any one or a combination of these sins will condemn our souls.
These sins, then, defined and described the way the old Corinthians looked, now Paul will explain the three steps that led to a complete change in their lives, a spiritual make-over if you will:
The New You
Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
- I Corinthians 6:11
Step 1. A New Cleanliness
The first thing needed in this transformation is to remove these old things from our lives. Sinful words, sinful actions, sinful thoughts and intentions remain constant in time before an eternal God continually condemning us. Each sin remains as a witness before God proving we are not worthy, showing we are not fit to inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore the first order of business is to remove these things that make us look ugly, dirty and unworthy to be in the presence of God. Paul says that they were washed, just like he was washed of his sins - Acts 22:16.
Paul answers in Colossians 2:14:
.. he has taken it (our list of sins) out of the way and nailed it to the cross.
When we want to see our sins we can look to the cross and see them atoned for; When God looks for our sins He just looks to the cross and sees His perfect plan for our salvation accomplished.
So the first step in the makeover of the inner person is cleanliness by washing away the past in the purifying water of Christ's baptism. We may look the same on the outside when we come out of the water but the inside is brand new without any history or blemish of sin.
Step 2. A New Purpose
The Bible calls it Sanctification but what it boils down to is a new purpose in life. The word sanctification means to separate or select something for a special purpose. For example, some men were selected by God to do a special work as priests. They were "sanctified" or set apart.
In this new and separate task they were given special clothes, special duties, special place to work and a special lifestyle. All of this was part of their Sanctification, their "set-apartness."
In the same way Paul explains that once we are baptized, washed from sin, God sets us apart from those who are unwashed. He does this by adding us to the church, Acts 2:47 and as members of the church we learn what our special tasks, special lifestyle is all about.
This lifestyle is Christianity and within the church we learn it, practice it and seek others for it. No matter what we were in the past, good or bad, because of our washing, we now have a new identity and purpose.
We are no longer thieves or fornicators or drunkards because these things are gone; but by the same token we are no longer homemakers, accountants or carpenters either.
God has set us apart and placed us in the body of Christ, erasing our sins and making out of us Christian homemakers, Christian accountants, Christian carpenters etc. with our purpose being to season every part of this world with the flavor of Christ.
Step 3. A New Security
Paul names one last step to the transformation process and he calls it justification = security. To be justified means to be acquitted.
For example, O.J. may have done the crime but the court acquitted him and set him free. He was, in Biblical language, justified (doesn't mean he had a good reason).
Regardless of your degree of guilt, if you are acquitted or justified, you go free and that is that.
We are guilty of our sins and crimes but Jesus pays the price for these by suffering on the cross and dying. Because Jesus does this, we are acquitted in God's court and set free from our punishment.
We're not free because we're innocent, we're free because Jesus took the punishment for our crimes on Himself at Calvary. We're guilty of the crime but we don't do the time - praise Jesus for this.
Paul says that God's gift to those who are washed and sanctified is the promise that they will not have to suffer or make-up for the sins that he has just mentioned - God has taken care of this through Christ. A legalist is a person who thinks that the individual has to make up or pay for sins in some way. In another passage I John 1:7-9, John explains that so long as one continues to remain set-apart in Christ, the sacrifice of Jesus continues to acquit that person of all the sins they do after they are washed as well.
The old person worried about guilt, punishment, condemnation, suffering - the new person is given the assurance that all of his/her sins past, present and future will no the charged to them - what peace this brings.
I think it's easy to be drawn into the worship of beauty and youth because our world loves these things and puts such emphasis on these things. Growing older and frailer; losing our vitality and virility is not a sin, it's the result of the sin that is in the world.
How much more at peace we would be if we worried less about looking and acting a few years younger and concentrated instead on making changes in the area where we truly can make a difference, where we truly can stop the clock for eternity!
Paul teaches us that God provides all of us with, not a method but a person who can transform us into a new people:
- who are beautiful in God's eyes because our sins have been forgiven.
- who have a completely new purpose and meaning to our lives.
- who will live forever in heaven never to experience sin or death again.
Jesus Christ can, has and will do this to everyone who comes to be washed clean in His baptism and lives faithfully in His church - if you want this make-over, if you want a New You - come.