Gal 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The carnal actions of man are plainly seen. All we have to do is turn on the television or radio, pick up a newspaper, or get on line. Go to a public place (mall, ball game, restaurant, etc.) and just sit and observe. The tragedies in the world will hit you almost as soon as you do any of these things; reports of shootings, bad drug deals gone worse, racial tensions, foul language, disrespect, and the list goes on.
When we do the works of the flesh, Paul says we shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Before we conclude that Jesus did not die for those under consideration here who will not inherit, we need to consider Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian brethren. In 1Co 6:9-10, we are given a very similar list of actions, again with the assurance that those who engage in this type of unrighteous behavior shall not inherit the kingdom of God. In verse 11 Paul states, “And such were some of you…” Now, remember, Paul had addressed this letter to “the church of God which is at Corinth (1Co 1:2).”
Often in the scripture, the phrase “kingdom of heaven” or “kingdom of God” is referring to His kingdom here on earth of which His church is the centerpiece. If we are all honest with ourselves, we will have to admit to being guilty of at least some of the actions Paul has listed here. We might not have ever engaged in unfaithfulness to our natural spouse, but what about our spiritual Husband (Jesus)? Have we ever played the harlot (see Strong’s definition of fornication) with the blessings we have received? We may never have physically slain anyone, but have we ever been guilty of hating our brother (1Jn 3:15)?
Few of us can claim that we have never been envious of another. Even if we have never been given to alcohol, how many times have we become intoxicated on some accomplishment in our lives? How many times have we reveled in the praise of men for some work we have done? Paul is plainly telling us here that even though Christ died for us on the cross and secured our eternal home for us, we will still miss the joy and peace of that salvation while we are here as long as we are content with the actions of the flesh!
Children of God, we cannot bring our carnal reasoning into His service. We cannot point to our accomplishments and suppose that we will receive accolades from God. The simple truth is that, without Christ, all of our actions are unclean. He, and He alone, is our righteousness. We have no goodness of our own that we can claim or cling to and expect to inherit this blessed kingdom here.
The Galatian brethren were being urged by some to turn to their works (circumcision, etc.) as a means of having fellowship with God and the saints. Paul was telling them to rejoice in Jesus Christ: to turn to the law was going to rob them of their inheritance here. Remember that in returning to the law they would become obligated to keep every part and particle of the law without fail. The law would again bring them under the condemnation of the works of the flesh: it is the law that manifests these works. Paul understood this firsthand (Rom 7:7-14).
May we recognize the manifest works of the carnal man, acknowledge that we have been guilty of these works, and look to our Savior to deliver us now that we may indeed inherit the kingdom of God here!