But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becomes saints;…
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. The subject which we gather from these words is that covetousness is amongst the worst of human crimes.
I. IT IS HERE CLASSED WITH CRIMES OF THE WORST CHARACTER, There are three sins amongst which covetousness is placed in the text: unbridled licentiousness, "fornication," and "whoremongery" - revolting indecency; "filthiness," that which is so unchaste and impure as to awaken universal disgust; and immoral speech - speech that is frivolous, untruthful, obscene, profane. These are sins confessedly of enormous magnitude. All true souls recoil from them, all pure minds renounce them as a degradation of the race and an offence to Almighty God. But mark, amongst these covetousness is placed. It is ranked with them as related to them in moral vileness. More than this, it is singled out as worse than these - "a covetous man, who is an idolater." What is idolatry? Holding anything nearer to the heart than God. The "covetous man" loves money more than anything else, and money is his god. We here in England are very zealous for the conversion of heathen idolaters. We create and sustain costly organizations, but there is no idolatry more real, more powerful, more damning, than the idolatry that prevails throughout England. What god in heathendom is more earnestly and constantly served than Mammon is served in this island? Before the introduction of Christianity into this country there were many idols here. "In Scotland stood the temple of Mars; in Cornwall, the temple of Mercury; in Bangor, the temple of Minerva; at Malden, the temple of Victoria; in Bath, the temple of Apollo; at Leicester, the temple of Janus; at York, where St. Peter's now stands, the temple of Bellona; in London, on the site of St. Paul's Cathedral, the temple of Diana; and at Westminster, where the Abbey rears its venerable pile, a temple of Apollo." But Mammon now has a temple everywhere, a temple on every hill and in every valley, in every church and house. Mammon has said to England, "Thou shalt have none other gods beside me," and England heartily responds, "Amen."
II. IT IS HERE CLASSED WITH THE WORST OF CRIMES, AS EXCLUDING FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD. "For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." From this passage may be inferred:
1. That heaven is a kingdom. There is rule and order there.
2. That heaven is a Divine kingdom. "Kingdom of Christ and of God." Christ reigns there. He is in the midst of the throne; his Spirit animates all; his Spirit fills all with adoring wonder and worship. Christ reigns as God there. Βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Ξριστοῦ καὶ Θεοῦ. Christ and God. The heavens are a kingdom managed, not by Divine partnership, - it is governed by God in Christ.
3. That heaven excludes evil characters of all descriptions. How clearly and forcibly this is declared in Scripture! - "The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness ... of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21). "Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." With the excluded will be the covetous man. Yes, though he has been a member of a Christian Church, though cultured in intellect, chaste in feeling, and refined in manners, though an eloquent preacher of the gospel of benevolence, he will find no admission into that world. He will be "without." With whom? Will he have a place set apart for himself? No, with the common damned.
III. IT IS HERE CLASSED WITH THE WORST OF CRIMES REPUGNANT TO THE DIVINE NATURE. "For because of these things cometh the wrath of God." Paul says, in his letter to the Romans, that "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." His deep, settled, immutable antagonism to wrong of all kinds is clearly revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. But is there any sin more repugnant to the Divine nature than covetousness, which is idolatry? What sin has the Almighty denounced with greater frequency and force than that of idolatry? But why should covetousness be so abhorrent to the Almighty?
1. Because it involves a real-appropriation of the blessings of Providence. God's will is that whatever a man, either by good fortune or by industry, obtains of this world's goods, should be expended for the advancement of truth and the general promotion of human happiness. But the covetous man appropriates all to pamper his own appetites, gratify his own vanity, and promote his own selfish and ambitious ends.
2. Because it involves an utter perversion of his own spiritual nature. The powers of the soul are not given to amass material wealth, nor the affections to love it. On the contrary, they were given to gather elements of the highest knowledge, and to love and serve the Infinite supremely in all. The soul was made to have God, not money, as the dominant subject of thought and the dominant object of love.
3. Because it involves the promotion of misery in the universe. Nothing is more repugnant to the heart of the' loving God than misery. The cause of universal happiness is-his, but the covetous man is necessarily a promoter of misery in his own soul, misery in his circle, misery through the creation. God's order is that no man should live unto himself, that all should labor for the common weal; in this way only the good of the universe can be served, its blessedness advanced, and its order maintained. Every man who sets himself up as his own end in labor and life opposes all the arrangements of God. He does what he can to create discords in its harmonies, miasma in its' atmosphere, poison in its streams. No wonder, then, that the "wrath of God" is against "the covetous man." - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;