pastoral care

Learning from the Failure of a Leader (Tullian Tchividjian)

TTullianhe fallout of Tullian Tchividjian’s admission of an “inappropriate relationship” will sweep broadly through the Christian community.First, how does it impact the message of Free Grace? I’ll call Tchividjian “Free-Grace-ish,” as he seems to have moved substantially towards a free grace position, but may not be fully free-grace. His views recently led to a separation between him and the Gospel Coalition, as explained by Tim Keller and Don Carson:

It was obvious to observers that for some time there has been an increasingly strident debate going on around the issue of sanctification. The differences were doctrinal and probably even more matters of pastoral practice and wisdom.[1]

So, reformed theologians already have their eyes on him. As I write this, I have yet to see any article by a prominent reformed writer which connects his fall with “antinomianism” or his free-grace-ish views. I hope that trend continues. But it would not surprise me if rocks are thrown connecting his doctrinal convictions and this issue. A well-known Lordship author wrote some years ago when a Free-Grace pastor he knew fell to sexual immorality:

Was his theology an accommodation to his sinful lifestyle? It surely might have been. This much is certain: No-lordship theology [aka, Free Grace] would have a soothing effect on a professing Christian trying to rationalize their long-term immorality… Certainly preaching that constantly touts ‘grace’ but never features law could help someone like that find comfort while sinning.[2]

Such thinking has no room in the free-grace position. The issue is not faulty theology but faulty obedience (aka, yielding to sin). No theology prevents sinful choices; only faithful obedience relying on the power of the Spirit prevents it. No matter what system one accepts. For those of us in the Free-Grace camp, two issues: (1) Be alert to those who use faulty logic (the fallacy that correlation implies causation) to incorrectly conclude that the systemlead to the actions, and (2) teach and practice the truth that Free Grace theology should motivate towards righteousness, not lawlessness and licentiousness. Paul addresses this very issue:

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Rom 6:1-2) 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? (Rom 6:15-16)

Second, this situation should remind Christian leaders of two important truths: (1) The failure of a leader causes greater repercussions than the failure of a “person in the pew.” The sin is not worse (infidelity is horrible no matter who is involved), however, because of the influence held by a leader, the ripple effects of his failure significantly harm the ministry he serves and those who choose to follow him. Leaders who fail cause greater damage to the cause of Christ and provide great fodder for critics precisely because they areleaders. (2) We are neither immune to temptation nor beyond its power. We must guard our walk and our lives carefully.

Third, when anyone falls, whether or not someone in our camp, all of us (not just leaders) should remember the warning Paul gave the Corinthians: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall (1 Cor 10:12).” None of us can completely avoid temptation, however, we have the ability in Christ to resist it. We can look for “the way of escape” promised in 10:13; we can recognize the truth that we are no longer slaves to sin (Rom 6:6); we can “walk by the Spirit and not carry out the desires of the flesh (Gal 5:16).

I don’t know what lies ahead for Tullian Tchividjian, his wife, his church, his future ministry. I do know it will not be easy. We can and should learn from this situation, but at the same time, pray for him, pray for his wife, pray for his family, pray for his church, pray for other who looked up to him as a leader. Pray that God will be glorified in the long haul through this trial, because “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).

     [1], accessed June 25, 2105, emphasis added.
     [2]John F. MacArthur, Jr., Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles, (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1993), 124.

The Scandal of Grace, by Jim McNeely

This post is written by Jim McNeely. He can be reached at  His site, is a great resource for Free Grace thinkers.
It has fallen to me recently to teach a group of youth at our church, so I have seized the opportunity to walk them through the book of Romans. I told them that it would change their life forever, but that it was going to be difficult, it was going to have times that it would be dull, and that I didn't think that most of them were up to it. They got excited!
What is amazing is that these are young teenagers who have very little theological training or understanding, in fact it is a bit embarrassing that they are so uninformed about the Bible and basic theology. However, just as in every circle, as we have begun to see the message of grace unfold, there are two distinct camps. There are some who love the message of grace, and some who are scandalized by it. In fact I have never seen a works salvation position so nakedly espoused with such passion as by a particular young man in the group. The simple gospel from the pages of the New Testament is beautiful and scandalous in every case.
I was praying and reflecting on this, and the obvious truth of it hit me. This is a spiritual issue, and it requires a spiritual solution. It is simplistic to say only that this needs prayer. It does, of course need prayer, but what exactly are we praying about? We have to present an extremely clear message to guide people to the point of such prayer. Grace is scandalous to the fleshly mind, and we ought not be surprised when people resist the message. It does not do to try to soften or cover the scandal of it, but on the other hand this is really an evangelistic situation. God is seeking to woo, to court people, and He is far more interested than we are in getting the message of the gospel across to dissenters. We must begin to think of people who resist grace for who they really are - unbelievers. Whether they appear to be religious or profane, if someone nullifies the propitiatory work of Christ and seeks justification by a form of works, they are rejecting Christ. God is not willing that any should perish, but as long as they seek to self-justify they are up to their own inadequate resources to achieve justice and significance.
Here are what I consider to be the essential points of the message of true grace which prove to be so scandalous to the fleshly mind.
The love of God, the wrath of God, and the justice of God

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (Romans 1:18, NASB)."

God is love. He clearly loves all men, and always acts in all cases from love. All other aspects of God stem from love. He hates sin because He greatly loves us. His justice is love and loving hatred of sin spread across all men. Because He greatly loves, He will not let the tiniest little sinful thought go unmet with justice. If we merely make these things into dry necessary points of doctrine, instead of reasoning with clear and emotionally rich understanding, we will lose people.
The purpose of the Law

"19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God;
20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19, 20, NASB)."

The law serves to show us that we are indeed one of the many who have fallen short of the glory of God. The law shows, not just that all have sinned, but that I myself have sinned. The law shows me that if God is love, then I am the object of God's wrath. If someone does not know this fear, and does not understand that good justice stands against them, their need for redemption will not be clear. This must be a knowledge that applies to the inner conviction, the conscience, the secret mind.
The propitiation

"24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26, NASB)."

This puts us in a terrible predicament. We cannot justify ourselves. If a rapist and murderer comes to trial, is it enough for him to "repent", to promise to never rape again? It is absurd; the crime that was already committed must be punished. All sin is like this. Mere resolve for future reform cannot possibly answer for sins already committed. It would be unjust. We are indeed lost, terribly lost. Part of the scandal that must be pressed is that repentance in the sense of a promise of moral reform is absolutely useless and offensive in procuring God's forgiveness. God will not be manipulated by our puerile and ridiculous "repentance" from surface behavior problems.
Instead, Jesus has stepped in. He is "just, and the justifier." (Romans 3:26) He has suffered the wrath of God's justice on our behalf, which apples "to the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:26)
It must be clear, therefore, that in Christ, and Christ only, we are justified. It is essential that no further work be added. There is no sense in which He is "Lord" that supersedes His Lordship in terms of being just and justifier. The agent of our justification must not EVER be soiled by the idea that we must also show evidential works of righteousness. Christian virtue can never rightly come to fruition if the secret threat of punishment enters back in, if the believer goes back to the coercion of law. It is a gift, and one does not earn or pay for a gift.
Christian Living

"1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?
2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4, NASB)."

If we actually believe that Christ only is our justifier, that we must not add our virtue as a necessary requisite for our redemption, it is inevitable that the question arises: "Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?" It is always the first question. It is the question of the offended flesh. If your preaching and teaching and dialog does not raise this question, you are most certainly not making the free gift of justification clear. Christian virtue, virtue which comes from grace, cannot be stripped of the supernatural. The law seeks virtue based on the flesh, human effort stripped of supernatural influence. It proposes that God's blessings come once we meet the conditions of the law. Grace offers supernatural blessing as a gift, without coercion or threat. It offers the opportunity to choose virtue for its intrinsic beauty, virtue as a blessing because of love.
Practical Thoughts
In conclusion, we who believe in the grace of God in Christ, ought not to minimize the scandalous nature of the message. We must pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes of the hearts of those we seek to influence, but if we do not press the essential truths of the gospel home to the point where they offend the flesh, we do not give the Holy Spirit opportunity to work in the minds and hearts of unbelieving self-justifying hearers. We must not be swayed by stories of friends who believe and yet go on in lives of sin. The gospel stands alone, true and powerful, and only the gospel has the power to reconcile men to God and to live for God from their inner secret heart. Because some people are fools and use the gospel as license to lead perverse ugly disgusting lives does not make the gospel untrue. We must teach and press the pure unadorned grace of Christ and pray for God to speak to the hearts of those around us. We love, because He first loved us!

“I’m with Him!” by Ryan Lambros

By Ryan Lambros When I was 9 years old, my family went to California for a jump-rope tournament (yes, I was a competitive jump-roper…but that’s another blog discussion). While staying at the hotel near Coronado Island, we met 2 young Naval officers who were on a brief stay from the USS Kitty Hawk. My dad, being the talkative, I-can-befriend-anyone type guy, got them to see if we could go on board the aircraft carrier that night and tour the incredible ship. They pulled some strings and got my family and the whole jump rope team passes to tour the carrier.

When we arrived at the dock to enter the hugest ship I’d ever seen, we were each given passes that identified us as being with the two young men, thus giving us authorization to board the ship. I remember my dad telling me, “Ryan, if anyone asks who you are or why you’re here, you show them your pass and say, ‘I’m with him’ (pointing to one of the guys).” We continued the tour and I stayed super close to the two guys. They gave us a phenomenal tour and I even got to shoot some hoops with the captain of the ship (indoor basketball court)!

I remember going through the tour holding on to my pass with such confidence. I knew that with it, I belonged! As a little kid I envisioned guys with guns flying down to capture me if I was asked why I was on the ship and had no reason to give them. The pass also gave me confidence in the men leading the tour. That pass was a direct link to the tour guides. If I followed them, I would probably get a much better understanding of the carrier than if I just wandered aimlessly around. Ultimately, the pass had a two-fold purpose: a remedy and a design.

I should not have been on that aircraft carrier. Who they let on to military ships is a very serious deal. Left to myself, I would not have been able to get on that boat. Getting on that boat could not have happened on my own. I needed that problem fixed. The pass, provided for me by the two guys leading this whole thing, gave me the remedy I needed. It was the free, undeserved pass that allowed me to access the incredibleness of the carrier that awaited me. It was mine. No one could take that away. It was issued, stamped, signed, and delivered. Even if I were to lose the physical display of the pass, it was documented in the log book that Ryan Lambros was allowed to be on that ship.

Where does a 9 year-old boy start when wanting to see an entire aircraft carrier in 1 hour? Does he check out the deck? Does he check out the bunks? What about the airplane-holder-thingy (I’m not a Navy guy)? Well, the pass given to me was directly related to the guy who gave it to me. Maybe I just trust him to guide me? Maybe the pass was designed for me to follow the tour guide; I’m sure he knew what was best. The pass was designed for me to have access to follow the leader. It was designed for me to enjoy and soak in the incredibleness of the ship, that I would otherwise have no other way of experiencing on my own.

Two purposes of the pass that should not be mistakenly combined: the remedy and the design. The remedy comes first. It allowed me to get on to the boat. The design comes second. It allows me to stay with the leader to enjoy the tour WAY better than left to myself.

Do you get where I might be going with all this? God’s grace has two DISTINCT purposes: remedy and design. The remedy grace gives to us was accomplished through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross (Eph. 2). The design grace now gives to us is that it motivates us to say no to our desire to search the ship on our own and to follow that remedy to enjoy our “tour” much more (Titus 2:14).

So often I see people struggle with this distinction. More specifically, I see students struggle with this distinction. As a Youth Pastor, people often ask me, “If a student in your ministry believes the Gospel, yet makes tons of mistakes afterward and lives a life that doesn’t reflect the Gospel, either later in high school or in college, do you worry about their salvation? Do you go back to them to make sure they’re saved?”

Students are tough sometimes. They are very passionate; they are very “swayed” by pressure; they oftentimes think they know things before they really do. My response to the people who pose the question mentioned above is this: “My job is to show them the remedy grace provides in a clear declaration (Eph. 2:8-9). My role is to proclaim the Gospel! My job is to help them realize the design that grace provides. My job is also to show students how the Gospel should affect our lives. You know what? Believing in the remedy is the easy part for students because it’s free. Following the design is much more difficult.”

Let’s compare them to the metaphor. Students are given the free gift of grace (“this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” Eph. 2:8) just like I was given a free pass to the ship (I did nothing to deserve it). Students then have a choice to walk in the design of that gift (“training us to renounce ungodliness” Titus 2:12) or to walk in pride. Some students wander aimlessly throughout the ship of life. They try to figure out everything there is to the ship. They think they are enjoying the best of the best while those who are following the tour guide are truly enjoying the best (trust me; the two guys gave us an incredible tour). So what happens to youth who leave the tour?

If I had wandered away from the tour and an officer found me, he would say, “What are you doing?” I would respond by saying, “I am with the tour guide, even though I’m technically not physically following him, BUT I have this pass.” Instantly, the officer would have to respond, “Well, I know you are authorized to be here, but do you not realize that your pass means you should be following your tour guide? It’s way better!” See, the officer would never challenge the remedy of that pass, but would probably challenge my understanding of the design. Even if I were to lose the physical pass, which could happen if I were to get in some trouble wandering on the ship, the truth of the matter is that the physical display of the pass isn’t what allows me to be there. It is the log book that has record of me being issued that free pass.

When students mess up, do things they shouldn’t, or even “go off the deep end,” I don’t instantly jump to the conclusion that they don’t have a “pass.” I simply remind them the design of grace. It is there for their benefit. They have received such an incredible gift, but they are wasting their time on the ship if they throw away its design. Instead of tossing students who struggle with their walk with God out of my youth group, I trust in the remedy and design of grace. The remedy for the student has nothing to do with me. I am simply called to preach the Gospel and show them the pass is available! The design is something that is a bit more specific. As a leader in the tour (not the tour guide myself) I am called to show students the pass’ design and the benefits of following that. Mmm, sounds like Grace-centered discipleship…but that’s another topic!

Ultimately, the greatest line – the most comforting line – that grace gives to students, is the ability to say, wherever and whenever they are on the ship, “I might be lost and not with the tour like I should, but I’m with him!” You wouldn’t believe how incredible youth ministry is when students understand the remedy and design of grace!

Ryan Lambros is an FGA member and the youth pastor at Maricopa Springs Family Church.  He graduated from Southwestern College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration.  He can be reached at

Counseling Carnal Christians (Part 2: The Pattern)

By Dr. Fred Chay
Having dealt with the predicament many ministers face in the church today in Part 1 of this series, we turn now to finding a biblical pattern for approaching people who are living carnal lives in order to help them repent and live eternally significant lives.
It is a well documented fact of history that the church at Corinth in the mid fifties of the first century was shot through with serious issues of divisions, a spirit of selfishness, and immorality.  To navigate the twisted estuary of issues that existed at Corinth required all the skill the apostle Paul had gained and an abundance of the grace of God to the church. Paul approaches his task with a clear strategy which reveals a biblical pattern for counseling carnal Christians.

(1) Paul Affirms Their Position

The apostle Paul begins by affirming their position in Jesus Christ. He begins at the outset of his first epistle by reminding them of their true position and personhood by God's grace. the church of God which is at Corinth to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:2-9, NASB)

There is no question in Paul’s mind that these are his brothers, redeemed by Christ, destined to spend eternity with Paul in fellowship with the Father.  They are “sanctified in Christ Jesus,” as well as “saints.”  They, along with others, “call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  They “eagerly await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Without a doubt, the audience that Paul writes to is regenerate and the first part of his strategy is to affirm their position in Christ.

(2) Paul Denounces Their Practice

Having quickly and powerfully affirmed their position, without raising the quill from the paper Paul launches into a firm, unrelenting, yet loving disdain for their personal and sinful practices. He clarifies his audience as the same ones he has so lovingly and powerfully affirmed in verses 3-9. It is to his "brothers" that his exhortation is addressed:

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you." (1 Corinthians 1:10-11, NASB)

The quarreling and fighting among the saints points to the truth that these saints are not effectively living up to their calling.  They are not the spiritual giants that they might think that they are.  In 1 Corinthians 3:1 Paul goes farther, referring to his brothers in Christ as fleshly, carnal, babies in the faith.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:1, NASB)

Moving from his denunciation of their divisions, he moves to their participation and seemingly "careless" attitude toward immorality. In chapter 5 Paul is astonished at their tolerance of immorality by a church member with his stepmother.

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife. And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst." (1 Corinthians 5:1-2, NASB)

The list of problems and turmoil within the church goes on to include lawsuits against brothers in chapter 6, selfishness and perhaps drunkenness at the Lord's supper in chapter 11, and the selfish and showy use of spiritual gifts in chapters 12-14. Nevertheless, in all the sin and spiritual failure of these brothers, Paul never hints that they are anything but the justified saints he began to address in chapter one.
If ever there was a case to question the salvation of professing Christians based on their behavior, this church provided the opportunity. But Paul does not question their conversion. However, he does present a question to them. It is not a questioning of their past belief or their present behavior, but it is in regard to their future role as a beneficiary in the kingdom. It is this questioning and the following exhortation that provides us with a biblical pattern of how to deal with believers who are besieged with carnality.

(3) Paul Questions The Future

In the midst of his denunciation of the Corinthians’ divisions and divisive behavior, Paul focuses on Christ being the unity of the ministry. It is upon the foundation of Christ that all of God's servants must build:

I planted, Apollo watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow-workers; you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:6-11, NASB)

Each of the individual members of the church of Jesus Christ has the distinct right and risk of building upon the foundation. It is at the Bema seat, the judgment seat of Christ, that Christ Himself will evaluate each person’s motives, methods, and manifestation of ministry.

Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work, which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire…Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15, 4:5 NASB)

The connection of 3:1-9 and 10-13 is clearly a cause-effect relationship. Because of their carnality their spiritual life is anemic. The only possible result is an evaluation by Christ that is less than desirable. Why does Paul introduce this future reality? Clearly it is meant to stimulate these babes and snap them out of their lethargic "Christian" walk. It is the same theology and methodology used by the apostle in 2 Corinthians 5:9-10, writing to the same audience. In this instance Paul reveals that it is his driving ambition to be pleasing to his Lord. His reason in part is that he knows one day he will give an account of his life and ministry.

Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad., Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. (2 Corinthians 5:9-11, NASB)

This motive was introduced in 1 Corinthians 9:27 where Paul describes the diligent discipline he exacted upon himself so that he might be found to be a faithful apostle qualified to serve Christ.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way as not without aim; I box in such a way as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NASB)

Paul certainly is not in jeopardy of losing his salvation. (See 1 Cor. 3:15b). But he is keenly aware that through a slothful and undisciplined life he could not only forfeit the present qualification to serve Christ, (9:27), but also future rewards to be bestowed by Christ in His kingdom (1 Cor.3, 2 Cor. 5). It is this theme, the loss and gain of reward by Christ, that Paul uses as a motivational method to move the carnal Corinthians to a more obedient and profitable Christian lifestyle.
In 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 Paul is rebuking his brothers because of their selfish and greedy behavior toward one another. They were evidently taking each other to civil court in hopes of winning a lawsuit. The apostle appeals to their sense of logic and shame.

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, matters of this life? If then you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? (1 Corinthians 6:2-6, NASB)

If we as believers will judge the world and the angels in the kingdom of Christ, certainly we can handle such simple matters here on earth between brothers. Paul admonishes them that it would be better to "suffer wrong" and be defrauded (6:7-8). But Paul concedes that instead they "do wrong:"

Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud, and that your brethren. (1 Corinthians 6:7-8. NASB)

Paul goes on to remind his brothers that those who do wrong shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:10-11, NASB)

The severity and the possibility are real for these believers. Paul, in the original text, utilizes the same word in both verse 8 and 9. To "do wrong" is to "do unrighteousness". The term is the same and the result for those who do wrong, such as stated in 6:9-10, is that they are assured of a loss of reward (3:15 and 2 Cor.5:9-10). In fact, some of the vices listed in 6:9-10 are the very maladies that beguiled the Corinthian church (compare 3:3, 5:1-2, 8:1-9. 11:17ff). Further, Paul rebukes brothers who are involved in these sins. It is these vices committed by Christians that Paul demands must be judged.

But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-not even to eat with such a one. (1 Corinthians 5:11)

The concept of inheritance has both a passive and an active force. All believers have a positional inheritance, which Paul describes in 1 Cor. 1:1-3 as well as in most of his writings (Eph.1, Col. 1, Rom. 8). This inheritance is based solely on the perfect and completed work of Christ. It is our right to enter into heaven with the passport of Christ's death and resurrection as our official and legal document of our inheritance.
However, there is also active force to an inheritance. This concept is seen in the historical use of the word to reflect the concept of acquiring or possessing something. Often this concept has a conditional element involved. It is this active and conditional force that is clearly seen in Paul's argument. He completes his argument by reminding the Corinthians that they formerly acted like that, but now they have been washed, sanctified, and justified. That behavior may have been justifiable before their conversion, but certainly not now, subsequent to their conversion.
The apostle utilizes the same argument to another group of believers who are struggling in a similar spiritual battle. In Galatians 5:16 Paul reveals to them that they have two choices. They can either walk by the flesh and produce its deeds or by the Spirit and produce its fruit.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:16-23, NASB)

The warning is clear. If these brothers and sisters refuse to walk by the Spirit the only course remaining is to walk by the flesh. The result is that they who practice these things shall not inherit the kingdom. Paul finishes his exhortation to his brothers by re-enforcing his plea for them not to commit two sins, which he just listed as those which exclude inheriting the kingdom. "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another." (Galatians 5:25-26)
In Paul’s epistles to the Corinthians and Galatians his concern is to exhort and educate Christians who are behaving in an inconsistent manner with their lofty position in Christ. To the Corinthians Paul had earlier introduced the possibility of losing reward and suffering loss (Chapter 3). In chapter 6 he personalizes this possibility for the Corinthians in the context of their carnal activity. If they continue in this practice, they may win the lawsuit before the temporal judges on earth, but they shall suffer loss before the Eternal Judge of heaven and earth.
Paul’s pattern, then, is well-established in 1 Corinthians.  He affirms the position of the Corinthians as saints, believers in Jesus Christ.  He then calls them to live in light of an eternal perspective not with fear of a loss of eternal life but with a realization of the eternal significance of their decisions for their service to Christ in the heaven.  This “eternal significance” perspective guides Paul’s admonitions to those who are secure in Christ.
In our final post in this series we will look at how we can practically apply the biblical principles which Paul has laid out in counseling carnal Christians.