What We Do vs What We Receive
“Those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).
The more that we examine the writings of the apostle Paul, the more we come to the conclusion that Paul chose his words very carefully. He didn’t write about things willy nilly. He chose specific words to communicate specific meaning that we might have an exact understanding of God, his nature, and his promises. And Paul used his language very carefully in today’s passage.
Notice what Paul says in Galatians 5:21. He compares doing something with receiving something.
According to Paul, certain things we do keep us from the kingdom of God. These things are, “Sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies” (Galatians 5:19-21). None of these things will be present when the kingdom of God finally comes. Yet, notice what Paul does NOT say. He does not say that we must do certain things to inherit the kingdom. He does not say that we must perform or earn our way in. Instead he uses the word, inherit. And no one inherits by deeds. Inheritance comes through relationship.
The deeds of inheritance happen as a result of inheritance, not because we’ve earned it. What are those deeds? “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Notice that Paul doesn’t say that we do these things. Instead he calls them, “Fruit of the Spirit.” We don’t do these things on our own. They are an expression of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives after we have been declared heirs. So, while the deeds of our own nature, the flesh, keep us from the kingdom, it is the deeds of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives that demonstrate we are heirs and in the kingdom.
You are part of God’s kingdom because your relationship to Christ makes you a co-heir with him.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
Your deeds are important. They are an expression either of your sinful nature, or of God’s work in your life. How would you like to express yourself today? What things to you expect to happen today that need to be addressed through the fruit of the Spirit?