"Do not be deceived…" – 1 Corinthians 6:9b
We are dealing with the topic of transgenderism or what is called gender dysphoria. As Christians we believe that our salvation is rooted in Christ's work. We are saved by grace, through faith. But apart from some very simple basics of belief, the Bible also addresses issues of our behavior. That is to say, one gets the clear impression from the New Testament scriptures that it is not enough to "simply believe." HOW we live is seemingly just about as important as WHAT we confess.
So here is where things get muddy: in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul tells his readers in Corinth (a congregation of both Jews and Gentiles),
"Or 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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God…"
Now, where did Paul get this list? At the Jerusalem Council meeting (Acts 15) it was agreed that the Old Covenant law would not be imposed on the Gentile believers in Jesus. Four exceptions to this were that the Gentile believers were told to avoid 1) sexual immorality, 2) eating food offered to idols, 3) eating meat that still had its blood in it, and 4) eating meat of an animal that has been strangled (Acts 15:29). There was nothing in that list dealing with thievery, or drunkenness, or being a swindler. So where did Paul get his list that he passed on to the Corinthians…this list of behaviors that would keep one out of God's kingdom?
I can see only a few options: 1. That Jesus taught on these other items and that even if we don't have them recorded for us in the gospel accounts, they were well known to the early church, 2. Jesus, by means of special revelation, passed on to Paul such a list, or 3. Paul, a Jew, raised in Judaism, understood that even though SOME elements of the Old Law (of Moses) were not being imposed upon Gentile believers in Jesus, as all of the Old Law had as its ultimate author God, even if the particulars were not to be carried over, the principles of all the old law were to be self-imposed.
All three options are possible but the third option would seem the most likely. Under this scenario, even if Paul was in agreement that circumcision was not to be imposed on Gentile believers (and he was; Galatians 5:6) he still had a view of what a godly man or woman should look like and that view was rooted in Old Testament law.
For a long time now evangelicals have been touting the message "Just believe." But is that enough? Even if the belief that one is being called to includes repentance and baptism (and Acts 2:38 would support that view), it appears that HOW we live is of nearly equal importance. James asks, "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?" (James 2:14) and John adds, "let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18). So regardless as to how one views this, our verbal or heart-felt confession of Jesus will not guarantee us salvation before Almighty God if our daily lives are being lived in conflict to what is presented to us as a godly or holy life.
Next week we'll go into this further…