And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:11 (NIV, 1984)
I recently spoke with a new friend who called from Kansas asking about the Adult & Teen Challenge view regarding addiction as it compares to Alcoholics Anonymous. While AA was founded on solid Biblical doctrine, it has moderated over the years to be more inclusive of all faiths. Therefore, there are some similarities, but also some obvious differences in our approach. My friend told me that his deliverance came the moment he finally understood he had not fallen too far from Jesus’ love and grace that he could not be restored. He said that Paul’s words above became his “life verse.”
As is often Paul’s style, he chooses a sledgehammer to make his point rather than a cleverly crafted argument. In Chapter 6, he quickly moves from addressing the inappropriateness of legal disputes among Christians to confronting the unworthiness of anyone to render a proper judgment due to their own sinfulness. From there, it is a short hop for Paul to compare their deplorable treatment of each other to the wickedness practiced by the flagrantly, sexually immoral who will not “inherit the kingdom of God.”
In all my years of studying the Bible, including those years of formal theological training, in never encountered a class called “Categorizing Sins 101.” It would have been interesting for sure for the Bible is strangely silent on the subject—for good reason. My friend was ready to spend the rest of his days in a drunken stupor until that moment he realized he had not fallen too far that he could not still be redeemed. He realized that if the most vulgar among us could still be “washed,” so could he. So can we! When there is sin, a habit, shame, or regret that causes us to be stuck in the mess we have always known, one moment in the presence of God can erase all that we used to be.