Today’s Scripture: Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:1–3

How bad do you have to be before you can lose your salvation? Long before Las Vegas earned the name “Sin City,” ancient Corinth had a reputation as one of the most wicked cities in the world. In the heart of the city was a temple to the goddess of love, Aphrodite. The temple was staffed by at least 1,000 prostitutes. Corinth also had great wealth because of its commerce. The city’s location and wealth made it a popular place for outsiders to visit while on business trips.

This was the culture in which the Corinthian Christians found themselves. One look at these believers proved that instead of influencing the culture, they were being influenced by it. The sad thing was that their wickedness exceeded that of the unbelievers. Everything the world around them was doing, they were doing worse. Paul definitely had a mess on his hands as he was dealing with this church. So how could he say these believers had been sanctified, or made holy?

Paul was not pointing to the actions of these believers when he told them they had been sanctified. He was talking about their position in Christ. Despite their sinful lifestyle, these believers were clean and holy before God because the blood of Christ had paid their sin debt. Now God wanted them to live like it.

Regardless of your actions, if you have put your trust in Christ as your Savior, you are sanctified. You can never become so bad that you lose your salvation. That does not give you an excuse to follow the godless culture around you — God doesn’t accept any excuses for sin. Whether you see it on television or the Internet, you hear a friend make light of it, or you engage in it yourself, it is still sin. God hates it, Christ died to pay for it, and He wants you to have nothing to do with it. You have been sanctified. Now live like it.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder