Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 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. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
"There but for the grace of God go I." Ever hear those words? They came from the lips of an English martyr named John Bradford, who, like the apostle Paul, was a lawyer turned preacher. He lived during the reign of Mary Tudor, who was not fond of Protestants. A month into her reign, Bradford was arrested and confined to the Tower of London. He uttered these famous words when he saw a criminal going to execution.
Bradford's words are true for us all, aren't they? Paul is clear that without God's grace we either were or would have been wallowing in sin like a pig wallows in the mud. Some of us were saved at a young age and graciously spared from a sinful lifestyle. But we know our inclinations and shudder to think where our wicked hearts would have taken us if not for God's grace. Others walked far down the path of sin and have the scars to prove it. Like the prodigal son, they were brought to their senses and graciously guided home. For all of us, it is only by God's grace that we have been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
As for Bradford, he continued to preach and write from prison until January 31, 1555, when he was burned at the stake. He was chained to another martyr named John Leaf. After begging forgiveness of any person he might have wronged and forgiving everyone who had wronged him, he turned to Leaf and said, "Be of good comfort brother, for we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night." Bradford knew God's grace in life and death.
Father, thank You for saving us from who we were and who we might have been without Your grace. Thank You for cleansing us, setting us apart, and declaring us "Not guilty!" through Jesus and by the Holy Spirit. May we live as those freed from the chains of sin. In Jesus' name. Amen.