One word can make a huge difference. Take for example, one of the first printings of the King James Version. The seventh commandment was rendered as “You shall commit adultery.” Oops! One word – missing in this case – makes a gigantic difference.
Paul wrote this to a church that lived in a very wicked and sinful environment: “Or do you not know the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you wed sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11)
The most important word in those three sentences is “were.” Some of the Corinthian Christians used to be everything Paul described, but they aren’t anymore. They were, at one time, fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers (and probably a lot more), but now they aren’t.
They went from “are” to “where” because God changed them. The Lord gave them new hearts and brought them from death to life, from darkness to light, from sin to righteousness. Can we really change? Yes, if God changes us. By His grace, He washes, sanctifies, and justifies us. Don’t lose hope – change is possible, but only when God does it!