Eric Carle is the author and illustrator of a very cute and clever children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
The story is about a caterpillar whose voracious appetite could never be satisfied. He was always hungry. Always eating, day after day. Never filled.
But one day something changed.
The caterpillar was no longer hungry. It no longer crawled on the ground. It was totally transformed. It became a beautiful butterfly with wings to fly.
Carle uses the story to teach children about food groups and days of the week but reveals something more profound. The caterpillar was never created to remain a caterpillar. He was destined to become a butterfly.
Similarly, God planned something better and more fulfilling than simply satisfying our fleshly hunger. His purpose for us is to be set apart from the sinful world. To rise to greater heights. And to ascend as a sharer of the divine nature.
In today’s passage, Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians that who they are is not who they were.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Briefly consider these four important points.
#1 Be not deceived.
Some 70 times the Bible warns us about being deceived. The devil is the great deceiver. The pursuit of sin is deceptive. And the pleasure produced by engaging the lusts of the flesh can deceive our minds and emotions.
G. K. Chesterton once said, “Men can always be blind to a thing so long as it is big enough.” And is long as it is enjoyable, satisfying ad gratifying enough to blind our spiritual discernment to the consequences of our actions.
#2 Recognize Unrighteousness
In our world, much like the hedonistic Corinthian culture, nothing is considered unrighteous. Anything goes. Many are guided by the modern pop slogan, “If it feels good, do it.”
Yet, God, in His righteousness, reveals that we are not created to satiate every fleshly hunger we feel. We are called to “walk by the spirit and not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).
The sins in this text are not intended to be a comprehensive, exclusive list of all unrighteous acts, but a synopsis of what unrighteousness is. It is immoral. Illicit. Indecent. Unethical. Unscrupulous. And obscene.
Look closely at this text. What God calls unrighteous, the world gives approval to with a wink and a nod. And some sins by legalized acceptance.
#3 Don’t lose your inheritance.
Twice, Paul speaks of their inheritance of “the Kingdom of God.” This refers to our eternal home. Heaven. Jesus has prepared a place for us to live with Him forever. But it’s possible to forfeit that inheritance by engaging in unrighteousness.
#4 God’s grace is greater than our sin.
Humans don’t have to live in the lowlands, crawling in the filth of sin. We’re made for more. Created to soar. And transformed to live a new life in the Lord.
We’ve been washed clean from these and all other sins by the blood of Christ (Rev. 1:5; Ax. 22:16).
We’ve been justified by our faith in the faith and now enjoy peace with God (Rom. 5:1-2)
We’ve been sanctified, set apart, and dedicated to God’s purpose for our lives (2 Thess. 2:13; I Pet. 1:2; I Thess. 4:3).
Paul David Tripp was right when he wrote, “The more you understand the magnitude of God’s grace, the more accurate will be your view of the depth of your unrighteousness; and the more you understand the depth of your unrighteousness, the more you will appreciate the magnitude of God’s gift of grace.”
Like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we can change. Be transformed. And rise above the putridity of this corrupt culture.
Like Paul, we each can echo, “I am what I am by the grace of God” (1 Cor. 15:10).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman