A Very Solemn Warning
1 Corinthians 6:9
“The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” The word “unrighteous,” as it is used here, means “unjust.” It refers to those who violate the principles of justice in their dealings with their fellow men (vv. 1-8). By the pen of the apostle Paul, God Almighty here excommunicates from his church all those who, while professing faith in Christ, live in open sin and unrighteousness.
Without perfect righteousness no one shall ever enter into heaven (Rev. 21:27; 22:11-14). Only holy men shall enter the holy city. Only righteous people can enter the kingdom of righteousness. That righteousness which is required by God is a perfect righteousness, righteousness which no man can ever produce. Read Matthew 5:20 and understand its doctrine: The holy Lord God demands perfect righteousness; but we cannot produce it. If you and I would inherit and enter into that blessed kingdom that is here called “the kingdom of God,” we must be made perfectly righteous by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us (Rom. 5:19; 2 Cor. 5:21).
John Gill wrote, “It was a loss and want of righteousness that cast the angels down from heaven, and turned Adam out of paradise. And whoever of his posterity are destitute of righteousness, will fall short of enjoying the glory of God; for it is not agreeable to the holy nature of God, to his infinite justice and righteous law, to admit any into heaven without a righteousness. Hence a judgment seat is erected, before which all must stand. And those that will be found without a righteousness, will be forever excluded from the kingdom of heaven.”
We who believe are made righteous by God in two ways: (1.) The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us in justification (Rom. 4:3-8). Just as our sins were imputed to Christ and he became responsible to the law of God for them, though he never committed any sin, so the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us and we have become responsible to the law for righteousness, though we have never performed any righteousness ourselves. Just as the law punished Christ for our sin which was imputed to him, the law rewards every believer for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. (2.) We have the righteousness of Christ imparted to us in regeneration (2 Pet. 1:2-4; 1 John 3:4-10; 2 Cor. 5:17). All who are born again by the Spirit of God have a new nature created in them, a righteous nature is imparted to them by which they reign as kings over the lusts and passions of the flesh. Yes, they do sin. Sin is mixed with all they do, so long as they are in the flesh. However, sin no longer reigns over them. They are not under the dominion of sin (Rom. 6:14-16; Gal. 5:22-23).
Paul is declaring that anyone who lives in sin, anyone whose way of life is unrighteous, does not know God. The righteousness of Christ has not been imparted to him. Those who walk in the Spirit, trusting Christ alone as Savior and Lord, shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.