Harlotry. A word most of us would rather not say, much less discuss in a candid way. Yet, we can all identify with harlotry – perhaps we’ve even been one. If not a harlot per se, then definitely as significantly sinful.
I love the Old Testament. I love studying the rich truths about God’s character that I learn through the accounts of the great heroes of the faith that we meet throughout the Old Testament. I am currently leading a class through Joshua in my church and, once again, I am falling in love with the beauty of the Old Testament.
If you have never studied the book of Joshua you have missed some amazing stuff. You’ve missed hope, battles, victory, salvation, miracles, and amazing lessons on leadership from the truly faithful Joshua. Did you know that Joshua is among the few people in the Old Testament who the Bible tells us had the Spirit of God? (Numbers 27:18) Yes, there is much to learn from the example of Joshua.
But today, I want to focus on another person we meet in the book of Joshua. A woman. A woman who had great faith and proved her faith boldly. A harlot that the Lord loved and saved because of her faith, just the same as He will do for any one of us when we come to Him in repentance and surrender… Her name was Rahab. And she teaches us much about our own salvation.
Most of you probably know the epic story recorded in Joshua Chapter 2 of the spies whom Rahab hides on the roof of her home in Jericho. Whether you’re familiar with the story or not, take a moment to read Joshua Chapter 2. It’s a short read – only 24 verses. This article will make much more sense to you once you’re in context. As usual, I’ll wait for you right here….
I’m a “Harlot,” Too
The story is fascinating, isn’t it? What providence! What faith! Verse 11 beautifully and concisely shows us in Whom Rahab is placing her faith – “… for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” She knew her faith belonged in the Lord Himself, not merely in these men who represented Him. And James tells us she demonstrated her faith by her works in the much loved “faith without works is dead” passage. (James 2:18, 25-26) James is not telling us here that we are saved by our works, rather that our works demonstrate a truly regenerated soul.
Rahab teaches us much in her simple demonstration of her faith in the One True God. But there is another aspect of her story that I believe every truly redeemed believer can identify with… Her harlotry.
Maybe you’re reading this and saying – but Kim, I’ve never been a harlot. Perhaps not. But if you are a blood-bought child of the risen Savior Jesus Christ, you have been forgiven much. The only thing that makes you or me any different from Rahab were our sins of choice. According to Scripture, there are no degrees of sin or classes of people that cannot be saved from the grip of sin to the power of Christ. All people can come to Him and know the power of His resurrection. (Philippians 4:8-10; Galatians 3:28)
“But” – The Beautiful Literary Contrast
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 gives a list of unrighteous lifestyles that will not inherit the kingdom of God. It isn’t an exhaustive list that says those sins are of higher rank than others, rather, it is a comprehensive list – meaning each one of those lifestyles represents a picture of the overall depravity of mankind. Verse 11, however, starts out with the phrase “such were some of you, but…” The “buts” in Scripture are such game-changers! Verse 11 goes on to say “but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
That verse calls for a big ol’ southern HALLELUJER!! … C’mon – say it with me….
We all need to recognize that God can and will save anyone He chooses. We humans don’t get to decide who is “worthy” of salvation. I am so thankful that the Lord stirred many hearts to love me enough to see me as He sees me and share the gospel with me. Where would I be if someone had looked at my lifestyle – one that very much reflected many of the traits listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – and deemed me “too far gone” for salvation?
Act Like You’ve Been Forgiven Much
There’s a beautiful account in the Gospel of Luke about an “immoral woman” who washed Jesus’ feet with a jar of very expensive perfume. (Luke 7:36-50) She did a scandalous thing by boldly coming to Jesus’ feet and showing the most extravagant gratitude she had the ability to offer Him. The Pharisees were shocked and appalled by her display because of her past. But Jesus saw this act as a display of her true faith and genuine repentance. And He scolded the Pharisee with a parable that ended in these words:
For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” … And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 7:47-48, 50 (emphasis added)
No Longer Content With Mediocrity
Friend, deep down in the core of your soul where the heart of your core belief system has taken root, do you really recognize the magnitude of Christ’s forgiveness of your sins? Do you “get” how awesome it is that you have been saved out of the bondage of sin and you are free to be a slave to righteousness? (Romans 6:18) Do you grasp the gloriousness of your position as a child of the King?
I am convinced that most of us would have to answer “no” to these questions. Because if we did, friends – if we really knew the value of our salvation – we would not be content with mediocrity in our Christian living. We would not be content to “sit, soak, and sour” as one of my previous pastors used to say. We would be determined to live and act righteously and to tell every person that would listen of the power of His resurrection in our lives. We would be compelled to behave like the holy people that God has already declared us to be (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). We would not settle for anything less than consecration and commitment to joyful sanctification in our lives. Nothing else would be acceptable.
That’s what Rahab recognized. That’s what the “immoral woman” in Luke understood. What about you? Are you acting like a redeemed saint or are you slopping with the pigs like the prodigal son?