Galatians 5:19-21 There is only one path into God’s kingdom, the narrow path

Galatians 5:19-21 There is only one path into God’s kingdom, the narrow path

19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Background

Paul warned the Galatians against the notion that one who is circumcised will inherit the kingdom of God even if he indulges in the deeds of the flesh. Against the claims of the Judaizers, he warned that circumcision does not provide an express path to the kingdom of God. Vices, in the devil’s scheme of things are designed to corrupt the believer and rob him of his inheritance, which is the kingdom of God. By entangling us in the pleasures and bondages of sin, the devil endeavours to detract us from the narrow path of God’s kingdom. Today’s devotion teaches us: There is only one path into God’s kingdom, the narrow path of righteousness.

Observation

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,…

Paul listed 15 manifestations of the flesh, the base instincts of men. These manifestations are organised into three categories according to their degree of severity:

  • First category (most severe): immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery.
  • Second category: enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying.
  • Third category: drunkenness, carousing.

The first category of vices are most severe for they corrupt a man’s spirit. And those who practice these things are mostly unbelievers. Notice immorality, impurity, sensuality are attributes that pertain to the core of a person. And these are antithetical to the core attributes of God: immorality / righteousness, impurity / holiness, sensuality / spirituality.

Idolatry and sorcery are considered abominations because those who practice them are in partnership with the devil. Idolatry accords to demons the level of devotion that should be given to God. Both Idolators and sorcerers attempt to use the powers of demons to do their bidding.

The second category of vices corrupt the heart of man. Those who harbour these vices are not necessarily hardened sinners as compared to those who practice the first category of vices. Because of they are extremely self-serving, they cannot exist in harmony with God or with people. And such if unconstrained will become a menace to any community.

The third category of vices corrupt the physical body and are less severe than the second category. Those who practice drunkenness and carousing have no self-control as they are imprisoned by lust, and fleshly pleasures. Such may not be a menace to people in general but are a menace to themselves and their families.

In the devil’s scheme of things, less severe sins pose as lures and in roads to sins of higher severities. For example, the vice of carousing will lead one to the vice of dissensions and eventually to immorality. Bondages travel from a person’s physical body (third category of sin) to his heart (second category of sin) and eventually to his spirit (first category of sin). The more severe the sin, the greater the bondage and the more difficult it is to cast off.

I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

What is the kingdom of God?

The kingdom of God is where the values of God and the heavenly culture are lived out. Paul says, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17. In other words, the kingdom of God is not a physical territory … and in this context, Israel which comprises people who eat and drink in accordance to the Mosaic law. But rather, it comprises people who live out the righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit regardless of their race. When Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, and because Jesus sensed the Pharisees had mistaken the kingdom of God for the restoration of Israel, He did not answer them directly but said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21. Here, Jesus taught the kingdom of God is immediately present within those who follow Jesus wholeheartedly, and who welcome His rule in their lives. Thus, wherever the righteous may be, there the kingdom of God will be manifested.

Do all who recognise Jesus as the Son of God enter God’s kingdom?

The answer is No. Jesus was asked by a rich young man who apparently was raised up in a fine Jewish family, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16). “Eternal life” is used to describe the very life of Christ and life in His kingdom. The young man is considered as pious and righteous in the eyes of the world. But he was unwilling to sell his possessions to give to the poor as Jesus had instructed him to. Thus, Jesus said in reference to him, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24. If the rich young man of pious disposition was not allowed into God’s kingdom, what more those who are immoral, impure and sensual. Following that, Peter asked Jesus concerning their portion since they have left everything to follow Him. Jesus responded to Peter,

“Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” (Matthew 19:28-30).

In short, all who follow Jesus will inherit eternal life in the kingdom of God where they will rule with Christ over humanity (judging the twelve tribes of Israel). In other words, those who inherit eternal life, who enter the kingdom (who are first) will rule over the rest of humanity (who are… last). Here, Jesus made a distinction between the disciples who will inherit eternal life, and the rest of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Therefore, not all who recognise Jesus as Saviour, the Son of God will enter God’s kingdom. Jesus said in no uncertain terms, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” Matthew 7:21. Many in the church today are likened to the rich man who refused to part with his possessions to do God’s will. And such will not inherit eternal life in God’s kingdom to rule with Christ.

However, that is not to say they will all end up in hell. For some of them will repent at the last moment and be given a place (not in the kingdom of God, but) in paradise. Jesus spoke to the repentant man condemned at the cross, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43). Paradise is synonymous with heaven. Paul spoke about being caught up into paradise (see 2 Corinthians 12:3-4). But eternal life in the kingdom of God is given to those who follow Jesus by carrying the cross.

Having established an understanding of God’s kingdom based on Jesus’s teachings, it is not hard to appreciate Paul’s warning to the wayward Galatians. Paul said in no uncertain terms that those who practice the vices as mentioned in the above cannot enter God’s kingdom! And some may even find their names removed from the Book of life. But the Judaizers have been peddling the devil’s lies supposing by their heritage, knowledge and appearance of righteousness, they are secured a place in God’s kingdom.

Truth

There is only one path into God’s kingdom, the narrow path.

Why do churchgoers dwell in sin?

Many churchgoers continue to dwell in sin because they love themselves more than God and put their own needs above the needs of humanity. They love the pleasures of world and indulge in the lust of the flesh. Some even take pleasure in oppressing others especially those who cannot defend themselves. They choose to believe in a false gospel supposing that by the grace of Christ they may enter the kingdom through the broad road. They foolishly supposed they will not be punished and continue to immerse themselves in the lust of the world. They plan to repent before their last breathe to enjoy heaven for all eternity.

Faith is ultimately a matter of the heart.

A man may pursue the knowledge of scripture thinking he may be saved through it. However, Jesus rebuked the Jews for having known the scriptures and yet rejected Him. Jesus said to them,

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. John 5:39-40

Jesus exposed the root cause of the Jews’ unbelief: they seek their own glory instead of God’s. Jesus said, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” (John 5:44). Many in today’s churches studied the bible while seeking to fulfil their own agenda. They supposed by their works of worshiping God, of serving in ministries, of studying the scriptures, they can arm twist God into fulfilling their agenda.

Faith is ultimately demonstrated by a person’s shift from loving self to loving God supremely; from putting self before humanity to putting humanity before self. Faith is not demonstrated by a person’s confidence in God’s promise to forgive and bless the sinner but by the regeneration of his heart to love God by obeying His directives.

What must we do to enter God’s kingdom?

The kingdom of God is granted to those who by God’s grace travel the narrow path to accomplish his divine calling. Indeed, the road to God’s kingdom is long, narrow and arduous. Paul, having been stoned and persecuted by the Jews went to many cities to encourage the disciples to continue in the faith saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (see Acts 14:22). Many churchgoers are taught that they will receive forgiveness of sins when they say the sinner’s prayer. But they are not taught about God’s kingdom and the narrow path that leads to it. Hence, many of them of them remain self-serving and are choked by the cares of the world.

Application

Employ the blood of Christ to remove the passions of the flesh that resides in our conscience. Hebrews 9:13-14 says,

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Prayer of cleansing:

In Jesus’s name I command the demons behind immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and cares of life to leave and be cast into hell. Cleanse me by the blood of Jesus so that I may be filled with the fruit of love, joy, and peace.

Fix our eyes on Jesus to receive grace to journey on the narrow path. Sin offers a moment of pleasure but drains a person’s divine life by cutting him off from the flow of heavenly grace. Therefore, it is important for the believer to be resolute in fixing his eyes on Jesus continually. In so doing, the believer may become vigilant to receive divine grace to run the race and, to cast off every sin that entangles him. The book of Hebrews says,

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Prayer of dedication:

Dear Lord, I thank you for giving me a divine calling as a prophet and healer to the world. I commit myself as your disciple. Reveal yourself and your angels to me so that I may work with you to accomplish your plans on earth. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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