Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolators nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
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.
The first things that I noticed as I read this over and over was the length of the list of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God. As long as that list is, it is not even the complete list. There are many that are not in this list.
Furthermore, we can have sin in our heart that may not make itself obvious in external action. Jesus himself says this is still sin.
You have heard it said, "Do not commit adultery." But I tell you that anyone who looks lustfully at another woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
At this point the comprehensiveness of the list of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God would seem to be complete. Anyone who is honest with themselves has to acknowledge that they are in the group of the wicked. As Paul says in another letter:
None is righteous, no, not one.
The incredible part is the next part. Paul knows that the saints he is writing to in Corinth used to be some of the things he mentioned, and he says that directly.
He reminds those in Christ that that is what we were, but our identity has changed. Praise God! How were we changed? We were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus Christ. God himself changed us.
This taught me to remember that when I encounter a wicked person, I am encountering an earlier version of myself. The same evil that is their identity was once my identity. The same grace that was extended to me is extended to them. This is an awe inspiring thought, and I pray that I do not forget it.