For this ye know - Be assured of this. The object here is to deter from indulgence in those vices by the solemn assurance that no one who committed them could possibly be saved.
Nor unclean person - No one of corrupt and licentious life can be saved; see Revelation 22:15.
Nor covetous man, who is an idolater - That is, he bestows on money the affections due to God; see Colossians 3:5. To worship money is as real idolatry as to worship a block of stone. If this be so, what an idolatrous world is this! How many idolatrous are there in professedly Christian lands! How many, it is to be feared, in the church itself! And since every covetous man is certainly to be excluded from the kingdom of God, how anxious should we be to examine our hearts, and to know whether this sin may not lie at our door!
Hath any inheritance, ... - Such an one shall never enter heaven. This settles the inquiry about the final destiny of a large portion of the world; and this solemn sentence our conscience and all our views of heaven approve. Let us learn hence:
(1) That heaven will be "pure."
(2) That it will be a "desirable" place for who would wish to live always with the licentious and the impure?
(3) It is right to reprove these vices and to preach against them. Shall we not be allowed to preach against those sins which will certainly exclude people from heaven?
(4) A large part of the world is exposed to the wrath of God. What numbers are covetous! What multitudes are licentious! In how many places is licentiousness openly and unblushingly practiced! In how many more places in secret! And in how many more is the "heart" polluted, while the external conduct is moral; the soul "corrupt," while the individual moves in respectable society!
(5) What a world of shame will hell be! How dishonorable and disgraceful to be damned forever, and to linger on in eternal fires, because the man was too polluted to be admitted into pure society! Here, perhaps, he moved in fashionable life, and was rich and honored, and flattered; there he will be sent down to hell because his whole soul was corrupt, and because God would not suffer heaven to be contaminated by his presence!
(6) What doom awaits the "covetous" man! He, like the sensualist, is to be excluded from the kingdom of God. And what is to be his doom? Will he have a place apart from the common damned - a golden palace and a bed of down in hell? No. It will be no small part of his aggravation that he will be doomed to spend an eternity with those in comparison with whom on earth, perhaps, he thought himself to be pure as an angel of light.
(7) With this multitude of the licentious and the covetous, will sink to hell all who are not renewed and sanctified. What a prospect for the "happy," the fashionable, the moral, the amiable, and the lovely, who have no religion! For all the impenitent and the unbelieving, there is but one home in eternity. Hell is less terrible from its penal fires and its smoke of torment, than from its being made up of the profane, the sensual, and the vile; and its supremest horrors arise from its being the place where shall be gathered all the corrupt and unholy dwellers in a fallen world; all who are so impure that they cannot be admitted into heaven. Why then will the refined, the moral, and the amiable not be persuaded to seek the society of a pure heaven? to be prepared for the world where holy beings dwell?
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Ephesians 5:5:
1 Corinthians 6:9
1 Corinthians 6:9
1 Corinthians 7:14
1 Thessalonians 4:6
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