Paul has just made a list of some wrong things that the Christians in Corinth used to do (6:9-10). These are serious matters; God had saved many evil people there.
Although God had changed their lives, those evil things still tempted them. Some people were arguing that Christians did not have to obey Godís law (6:12-13). One particular man had even married his fatherís former wife, although this is clearly against Godís law. And many other Christians felt a strong desire for wrong sex (7:2).
So Paul urged the Christians to remember how wonderfully God had changed their lives. God had saved them from the evil desires and wrong behaviour that formerly controlled their lives. They certainly should not allow those wrong things to control them again (6:12).
Those evil deeds are like dirt; they spoil peopleís lives. But Christians are like people who have washed themselves at a pure stream. As water removes dirt, so God had taken away their wrong behaviour. He forgave them, but he did more than that. He also removed the evil deeds from them; they never had to behave like that again.
And then God made them holy. In other words, he separated them so that they belonged to him. What formerly ruled their lives now had no power over them. Instead, they became God's holy, special people (1 Peter 2:9-10).
Then God declared them righteous, in other words, good. He declared that their lives pleased him. During their former lives, it seemed impossible that such people could ever please God. But God had done this wonderful thing by the death of Christ. And he worked in their lives by the power of his Holy Spirit.
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© 2013, Keith Simons.