In the previous post, we read Paul’s words in Galatians 5 where he writes that if you are regularly demonstrating hatred, discord, and fits of rage, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Is Paul saying that if we are not kind, we cannot go to heaven?
“Paul,” you might say, “I thought you wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9, that it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, not by works, it is the gift of God. I thought you wrote in Romans 10:9-10 that if we confess with our mount, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved. Now you’re saying in Galatians that we will not inherit the Kingdom of God if we are struggling with sin?”
It can seem like Paul is contradicting himself. How are we saved? By believing or by being good?
Paul is not contradicting himself. Christians are people who believe in Jesus. A relationship with Jesus starts by believing in him, believing that God raised Jesus from the dead. But a relationship with Jesus is not just believing an idea in our minds. A relationship with Jesus is verified as authentic when we allow our beliefs to affect our actions. This is why Paul also wrote, “Confess Jesus as Lord.” When we confess him as Lord, we Christians respond to the grace of God in Christ by making different choices, living a different way. We work to get rid of the acts of the sinful nature. We do the work to walk in step with the Spirit. We do these actions of getting rid of the sinful nature and walking in step with the Spirit as acts of gratefulness to God.
Paul’s implication in Galatians 5:19-21 is clear. If we do not get rid of the acts of the sinful nature from our lives; if we allow hatred, discord and fits of rage to have a hold on our lives, then we should not believe that we will inherit the Kingdom. When he writes about the inheriting the Kingdom, that is language describing experiencing abundant life now and eternal life in heaven. So evaluate yourself. Are hatred, fits of rage or discord a regular part of your life? Then you are not experiencing the abundant life Jesus wants for you, and you should not have confidence that you will inherit the Kingdom of God.
If so, what will you do to work to get those things out of your life? Don’t just simply say, “Well, I’m forgiven. God loves me. I believe in him. I’m good. I don’t need to worry,” and then live as though your acts of the sinful nature don’t matter, maybe just continuing to be unkind. Remember the heart of God in saying these things; he wants what is good for us. A heart that has rage, hatred and discord as a part of it is not going to be joyful, content, is not in good relational standing with others, which is what God desires for us, to be in good relationships with others.
Instead, make a point to walk in step with the Spirit and grow kindness in your life. In the next two weeks we’ll talk about goodness and gentleness. For the remainder of this week, let’s return to the definition of kindness. And we’ll do that in the next post.
Photo by Sebin Thomas on Unsplash