SIN, AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD
SIN, AND THE KINGDOM OF GODCopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Precisely what is the relationship between sin, and the Kingdom of God? Is the Kingdom of God a reward that is given to us if we don't sin?
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-20)
Please remember that I am not speaking of going to Heaven. Heaven is a city, Zion, in the spirit world. The Kingdom of God is independent of Heaven. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God that operates first in God's victorious saints; then in the entire Church; finally in all people who are saved to the new world of righteousness.
Remember, the passage above is speaking to Christians, to members of the churches in Galatia. The Apostle Paul is warning Christians that if they continue to sin they will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Now why is it that if a Christian continues to live in his sinful nature, he or she will not inherit the Kingdom of God?
I know what today's Christian leaders will say: "There is no need to worry. The believer will go to Heaven by grace in any case." This is the level of spiritual acuity we are dealing with in our time, when sin is increasing so rapidly in the United States and the rest of the world.
The reason the believers who keep yielding to the sin in their flesh cannot inherit the Kingdom of God is that there is no sin in the Kingdom. Why is there no sin in the Kingdom? Because the Kingdom is the rule of God in Christ in the saints. Where the rule of God is active, sin is not permitted.
Let us take these sins one at a time:
Sexual immorality. America, England, and the other formerly Christian nations are filled with sexual immorality. Sexual immortality defiles the human body, which is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Where the rule of God is present there is no sexual immorality. Any believer who does not gain victory over sexual immorality is not living in the kingdom of God. He may "accept Christ" ten times. He still is not living in the Kingdom of God if he is practicing sexual immorality.
Impurity. Purity has to do especially with holiness. The Kingdom of God is holy. No unclean spirits are allowed in the Kingdom. When we practice that which is impure we are outside of the Kingdom.
Debauchery. Any time we abandon ourselves to excessive eating and drinking, sexual activity, alcohol, drugs, losing our self control and doing that which stimulates the body without regard to the consequences, we are outside of the Kingdom of God. Such activities are not pleasing to God.
Idolatry. When we adore a person, thing, or circumstance, not willing to give our object of interest to Christ, we are worshiping an idol. Idols are not permitted in the Kingdom. We are to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. God has given us many people, things, and experiences to enjoy. But we must hold them lightly, not becoming fascinated with them.
Witchcraft. Any attempt to manipulate the physical world by using imagination, positive thinking, fortune telling, astrology, tea leaves, speaking creative words, or anything like these, is witchcraft. There are only two sources of spiritual power. One is God. The other is Satan. When we are not calling on God in Jesus' name to help us and meet our needs and desires, but are using some other spiritual practice, we are indulging in witchcraft.
The spiritual power of God is clean, wholesome, not veiled in darkness, not mysterious. It operates in the sunlight. The supernatural becomes natural. There is no need to peep and mutter like a wizard. True faith is not produced by our effort to "believe," but drops into our spirit from God.
Hatred. The Kingdom of God is one of peace. This is why the Apostle Paul commanded us to think about things that are lovely and of good report.
Satan is a master of hatred and exists in hatred. Whenever we begin to hate someone, we are playing Satan's game. He always wins.
There are numerous people in the American culture today who are doing things that are not in accordance with the Bible. There are people in our government, in the entertainment field, leaders of large enterprises, and sometimes average men and women, boys and girls, who do not seem to be aware of God. They act as though they have no conscience. They are driven by money, sexual lust, personal ambition, or hatred and malice.
When we read in the paper and see the pictures of the wicked who parade around, working their abominations, we begin to fret. Soon the fretting becomes anger and rage. Instead of looking up to Christ confidently, understanding that He is in control of everyone and everything on the earth, we lose the Presence of Christ in our life. We come down from our high place in God, ready to kill someone.
"The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God." We must pray constantly that God will keep our mind with Christ at God's right hand in Heaven. Satan desires that we keep our mind on his antics in the earth until we fret and lose the righteousness, love, joy, and peace that God wants us to have.
Discord. God's ways are ways of love, peace, and joy. When we find ourselves ready to argue with someone, we need to remove ourselves from this situation. We are to be one with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The only way two Christians can be one occurs when both are living by the Life of the Lord Jesus. If we are living by belief in Christian doctrine and not by the Life of Jesus. we may find ourselves arguing with others who believe differently.
Differences in doctrinal belief have caused much conflict in the world. This is so unnecessary! What is true is true, and it will take place whatever we believe. And no religion is practiced in Heaven! So to argue about doctrine, or anything else, does not lead us into God's Kingdom.
Jealousy. According to the Bible, it is God who exalts one person and puts down another. We are going to find, as the Kingdom draws closer to us, that God has fashioned some people to lead and to occupy a high place in His Kingdom. These will not necessarily be people who have gained prominence as Christian leaders, but those whom God has chosen according to His own will.
If we see a brother or sister lifted up to a high place in the Kingdom, we must resist any tendency to envy that individual. You can be sure if God has placed them at Christ's right hand and left hand in the Kingdom, that it is absolutely fitting that they occupy that position. To be jealous or envious is to give way to Satan, who always is envious and jealous of those whom God chooses.
Fits of rage. Those who indulge in fits of rage have a spirit of murder dwelling in their flesh. We must never give in to such a passion. We are to confess it to Christ, name it as evil, renounce it, saying we never want to experience this passion again, resist it in the name of Christ. It is a spirit, and if we are sincere and determined to be rid of it, it shall leave. It has no place in the Kingdom of God.
Selfish ambition. It is my opinion that selfish ambition is somewhat different from the other sins we have mentioned, in that it may not be a spirit dwelling in our flesh that can be cast out. All forms of self-will, self-love, selfish ambition, self-exaltation, seeking preeminence, have no place in the Kingdom of God.
While I am not certain these attitudes of self can be cast out, as can hatred and jealousy for example, it is proper to pray that God will remove them totally from us. Self-love and self-will are the first attitudes that will resist our efforts to live by the Life of Jesus. They are determined that we do not set aside our own life as we endeavor to life by the Life of our Lord.
If we continue to pray resolutely that God will deliver us from self-seeking and self-will, God may see fit to permit Satan to put us in a prison of some sort. There we are to abide patiently and as cheerfully as we can while the Spirit of God destroys the self-love and self-seeking that are in us.
Of all the sins that plague us, the worst may be self-will and self-aggrandizement. It was this attitude of self-love that drove Satan to attempt to supplant God as head of the creation.
Dissensions. "It takes two to argue," it is said. We usually can feel when a spirit of argument begins to rise in a situation. If we have an arguing spirit, we will keep on escalating the argument. Such a spirit is not of the Kingdom. We do well when we perceive that a debate is occurring to give a soft answer, and then turn away.
Ordinarily nothing is gained when people argue with one another. As a wise person said, "A person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." It is the way of the Kingdom to strive for peace. Those who do so are blessed by the Lord.
There is nothing wrong with dissenting from a majority opinion. But if we become angry, hateful, combative, we have left the Kingdom of God. Our Lord Jesus did not do this. It is not the way of the Kingdom.
Factions. It is not unusual for there to be factions in a congregation of believers. But such attitudes come from the adamic nature, not from the Spirit of God. Factions often have leaders. It is the responsibility of the leaders to get together and work out their differences. If they all love Jesus, and want to do His will, it will not be long before God gives wisdom so that even the most antagonistic agendas are resolved.
A church in which there are factions is spiritually sick. It will not prosper in the Kingdom of God until there is peace and harmony among all the members.
Envy. As I said before, there are ranks in the Kingdom of God. For example, Jesus called to Himself twelve men. How about the other millions of Israelites? Why were twelve selected? On what basis? And then Jesus took three of the twelve to be with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration.
How do you suppose the remaining nine felt when they heard about that? Would they have been tempted with a spirit of envy? They would have had to resist a spirit of envy if they were to live in the Kingdom of God!
It will not be too long before the Lord Jesus returns to earth. Then we are going to be faced with some saints who are exalted above others. How will we feel if we are given a lowly place? We will have to learn to be pleased when a brother or sister is exalted and seemingly favored by the Lord. Envy is not permitted in the Kingdom of God.
Drunkenness. People become drunk for various reasons. Often to escape the pains and problem of life on the earth. There is no need to become drunk to survive our journey through the valley of the shadow of death, which life on the earth is. The Holy Spirit will give us all the love, joy, and peace that we need to survive, if we obey Jesus and ask Him to give us such peace and joy. This is true no matter what our circumstances may be.
Orgies. It is my understanding that parties are for children and fellowship is for adults. It is not surprising when children abandon themselves at a party, laughing, running about, and shrieking at the top of their lungs. But such behavior is not seemly in adult Christians.
Every seasoned saint learns to always post a guard. This means wherever he is, he is on guard spiritually. He never gives himself over to merriment. He may enjoy himself talking with friends; but he never is to forget that Satan is watching, hoping for his destruction. One unguarded word by the believer can be used by Satan to cause much trouble.
I have been to a few Christian parties. It is not inspiring to see adults playing "musical chairs" or "pin the tail on the donkey," or a word-game of some sort.
For children, yes. But the oppression of demons is becoming so intense in the United States at this time that when all the Christian adults are eating and drinking and playing games, the first thing you know some sort of demonic activity may prevail. It may be in the area of sexual lust, or anger, or a word that hurt someone's feelings, or some other unseemly behavior that is not of the Kingdom of God.
"But," American Christians will respond, "aren't we supposed to have fun?"
No! Fun is for boys and girls. Righteousness, love, joy, and peace, yes. But fun in the flesh is not appropriate when Satan is looking for an opportunity to destroy us; and when so many millions of people are dying of starvation.
It is time for us to grow up. The spiritual environment is terrifying. Jesus will protect us if we are looking to Him at all times and obeying Him completely. He will return; but before He does, we are going to be facing trouble that we have not seen before in our country.
Let us begin learning how to live by His Life so we may be able to stand, and help others to stand, during that day of evil that is approaching.
I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.