"Were" is a great Gospel word. Let me demonstrate. I was reading statuses on Facebook one day a couple of months or so ago and I came to a status that a pastor friend of mine had posted. He was preaching through 1 Corinthians and that day (Sunday) he had just preached from 1 Corinthians 6 on the passage that included vss 9-11. I cannot remember exactly what he wrote, but he said that he wanted to remind his people of the sentence that begins vs 11:
"And such were some of you."
He wanted to remind his people that they were something then and now they were something else.
This sentence, "And such were some of you" is nestled in between Paul's descriptions of what the Corinthians were like before Christ and what happened to them after they put their trust in Him:
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. 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."
Ok, so let me tell you what happened when I read that sentence. It went deep into my heart and it stayed there and it hasn't moved yet. God has graciously given me a feast in those six little words.I really hope and pray that they hit you like they hit me. What's interesting is that I have read 1 Corinthians 6 scores of times in my life, but never really noticed that sentence. Isn't that just the way God works, though? What is hidden to us is revealed at just the right time of His choosing. I read the sentence and I just began to say it over and over in my head, but the amazing thing is that it never took on the form of a mantra. Every time I said it, it grew in power and it increased my love of the Savior and what He had accomplished for me. I continued to say it day-after-day and to meditate on all of it's implications that came to my mind. And I also noticed that my main focus was on the word "were".
Remember, Christian, what you were before you trusted Christ; godless, hopeless, helpless, guilty, rejected, hell-bound, dead? Then Paul comes with the words "and such were some of you". Beautiful words, aren't they? Freeing words! Words of mercy and grace! Imagine a criminal hearing an indictment in court. It is a long list of his crimes being read! His head hangs down. He expects punishment. Really hard, fearful punishment. Then He hears the words, "And of such were you." Can you imagine? If you are a Christian you can! Because that's exactly what happened for you (me).
But it doesn't stop there! Read on, it gets even better. What else happened? Oh, you were washed clean of all of your filthiness in the precious blood of the Lamb, you were made into a holy one (sanctified), a saint, and then you were declared completely innocent of your sins at the bar of God's justice (justified) in the name of Jesus Christ. A lot of "were"s in there also! The difference is that the "were"s from before are still "were"s. That's not your identity anymore. Your identity is in Christ now. The "were"s that come after what you were are also "are"s. They describe something that happened to you in the past and they describe what you are now. You are washed clean, you are being sanctified more and more each day and you are justified in God's sight in that you are declared forgiven of your sins (Christ having taken them on Himself in your place) and Christ's righteousness is imputed (given) to you.
So, what should you do with this? Go back daily and remind yourself of who you were before Christ. Then say, "and such were some of you", and remind yourself of what you are now. Then become who you are, don't go back to who you were. You are in Christ who is your life. That is who you are.
"and such were some of you..."