In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! . . Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel. Matthew 3:1, 2; Mark 1:14, 15 NKJV
“Timing is everything” is an expression used to say that if something is meant to happen it will at the right time and for the right purpose. Both John the Baptist and Jesus preached in their respective ministries that the kingdom of God is at hand—a present reality—not for another time or for another people. In the kingdom, God is an on-time God, and timing is everything.
Time is defined as a moment, minute, hour, day, month, year or years, as indicated by a clock or calendar. Over time, there is a tendency is ask oneself how long before something comes to pass or the blessing is manifested? When will it happen for me?
Consider the promise that God made to Abraham that a covenant son would be born unto him and his wife Sarah. For twenty-five years Abraham believed God’s promise, but timing was everything. In Genesis chapter 18, the Lord and two angels visited Abraham in the plains of Mamre, and the Lord reiterated the promise by saying, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.” Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself . . . and the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son” (Gen. 18:10-14). For Abraham and Sarah, timing was everything; nine months later, the promised son (Isaac) was born.
If it’s meant to happen it will, according to God’s purpose and will, His desire and pleasure; whether it’s an open door, an opportunity, a job or business, marriage or pregnancy, or ministry, etc. Everything that happens in life is based on timing, e.g., sunrises, sunsets, day and night, and seasons. Timing is everything!
In the text above, Jesus’ public ministry began only when John’s ministry ended. Jesus, the Lamb of God (John 1:29; Rev. 13:8), in time, He had to first be water baptized, filled with the Holy Ghost, and be led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil. Jesus’ ministry increased and John’s decreased (John 1:26, 27, 30). Life has a time-table for all things, but in the kingdom of God, God has a prophetic time-table based on eternity not chronology. Jesus operated on God’s prophetic time-table. Timing was everything!
Both the earthly time-table and prophetic time-table have timelines that includes endings and new beginnings and an exploration period in between for a moment, hour, day, month, or years. But when John’s ministry ended, Jesus’ public ministry offered the world a new beginning, and in between that which ended and the new beginning, Jesus prepared Himself. In the kingdom of God, at the appointed time, God will perfect that which concerns you according to His purpose and will, at the appointed time because timing is everything!
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14, 15 NKJV
“At hand” is an idiom, and in some uses, a prepositional phrase that means near in time and position. When Jesus kicked off His public ministry, preaching that the kingdom of God is at hand, announcing the beginning of God’s reign on earth and the forgiveness of sin. His message was the gospel (“good news”) of the kingdom because it offered freedom, justice, and hope to the poor; deliverance to the bound and oppressed; and, healing to the sick and diseased. The unequivocal message of Jesus’ ministry was that the kingdom of God is at here and now.
The time had been fulfilled because Jesus was operating on a prophetic time-table, i.e., it was His appointed time to begin His ministry because John the Baptist was decreasing and He was increasing (John 3:30). When time is fulfilled, everything in life (good, bad, or indifferent) happens at a preordained appointed time (Acts 1:6, 7; Gal. 4:4). But the good news is: when the King is on the scene, there is change in the air, if you repent and believe in the gospel. True repentance, (i.e., change of mind, to think differently, and afterthought), precedes real faith towards God (Heb. 6:1).
“At hand” is a kingdom that has already come, i.e., the kingdom of God. According to Jesus’ preaching, you’re not going to the kingdom, but the kingdom has come to you (Luke 17:21). After “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23), large crowds begin to follow Him; then He, from a mountain (Matt.5:1), begin to teach the multitude to pray: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
“At hand is a kingdom that can be seen (by faith) and entered into (John 3:5, 5, 12). If you’ve repented and believe in the gospel message, then by faith, see that God’s kingdom is already “at hand”—and as it is in heaven, enjoy the same here on earth. The kingdom of God is at hand!
Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert. 20 The beast of the field will honor Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I give waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My people, My chosen. 21 This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise. Isaiah 43:18-21 NKJV
When the year 2018 ends, the New Year (2019) begins. Every new beginning is preceded by an ending, and you can’t receive the new reality of a new beginning, in all of its fullness, if you’re still holding on to the old. So, do yourself a favor and say “goodbye to 2018”—don’t look back. Look forward to a new beginning and expect God’s very best!
Many are, perhaps, thinking that they need to make a New Year resolution because they want something to change in their life and circumstances. There is nothing magical about making a new year’s resolution, only to be broken or soon forgotten. Forget about making a resolution and instead make a decision—a quality decision to take God at his Word and believe that the past is pasted but now faith is and without “now” faith”, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:1, 6). The past is your mortality; the present is your reality; and, the future is your destiny. Every New Year moves you closer to the fulfillment of your God-ordained destiny.
So, as outlined in the text above, where God speaks through the Prophet Isaiah to admonish His people not to live by looking in the “rearview mirror” nor limiting their life to an old way of thinking and believing. God wants to do a new thing in your life, so say goodbye to 2018.
In the New Year, God wants to give you such an abundant miraculous supply of water (blessings) notwithstanding the “dry desert” conditions you may have faced in 2018. Poetically and by analogy, God’s supply will be so abundant in this new season (2019), even the wild beasts, the jackals and the ostriches shall be impacted by the blessings, and they shall break forth into thanksgiving and praise to God for the beyond-measure outpouring of blessings that shall benefit the people of God passing through the wilderness and deserts of 2018. So, go ahead and say goodbye to 2018!
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NKJV
An inheritance is property received from an ancestor, i.e., something of value passed on and received by another. As a Testator, when Jesus died on the Cross, He left those who believe an inheritance—the kingdom of God. Anything or anyone that unlawfully circumvents or uproots your right to receive and enjoy your inheritance is an inheritance cheater. The apostle Paul taught the Corinthians (Text) and the Galatians (Galatians 5:19-21) that people who are living—characteristically—an unrighteous life will not inherit the kingdom of God because they have been cheated. Sin, Satan, and false religious indoctrination will cheat you out of your inheritance.
It is important to rightly divide the Word of God in light of Paul’s teaching. Please notice that in the text above that Paul used the conjunction “neither” to single out two groups of people. “Neither” means “not the one and not the other of the two” (Webster). So, he is referring to two groups that characteristically practice sin—the unrighteous and some believers in the church who continuously practice the sinful vices enumerated in the text above.
So, what does it mean that they will not inherit the kingdom of God? Does it mean they will not go to heaven? “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt 7:1). But rather consider Mark 1:15; Luke 17:21; John 3:3, 5, 12. In each of these passages of Scripture, Jesus says that the kingdom of God is at hand; the kingdom is within you; and, the kingdom can be seen and entered into here on earth (John 3:12). Thus, to inherit the kingdom of God is to receive the blessings of God’s Spirit, His righteousness, and the fruit of the Spirit (Rom. 14:17). Paul confirmed this truth when he wrote to the Galatians, “Now the works of the flesh are evident . . . they which do [practice] such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is . . .” (Gal. 5:19, 21-23). The fruit of the Spirit was directly connected to inheriting the kingdom of God.
The unrighteous who have never accepted Christ and any believer who is practicing sin—living continuously a un-Christ-like life are the ones being cheated out of their inheritance. They are cheated in not being able to enter and enjoy this kingdom of righteous, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom. 14:17). So, for those cheated out of their inheritance, the question is not whether Christians who practice sin are lost, but rather, are people who practice sin even a Christian? (1 John 3:5-8). Stay woke. Watch and pray. Don’t get cheated!
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:18-21 NKJV
The strength of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56), but if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Gal. 5:18), and the sinful passions of the old nature, that are aroused by the law, will not work in you to bear the fruit of death (Rom. 7:5). The old sinful nature produces vices that lead to spiritual death, and the fruit of the Spirit produces virtues that lead to a vital inheritance in Christ.
An inheritance is something of value passed on and received by another. So, what is your inheritance in Christ Jesus? Jesus said, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). Your inheritance is salvation and eternal life—not only most valuable but priceless!
The Apostle Paul told believers in both Galatia and Corinth “that those [the unrighteous] who practice such things [vices] will not inherit the kingdom of God” (See text and 1 Cor. 6. 9-11). The point is simple: receiving an inheritance is based on legal right. If you act contrary to what is right in the sight of God, you cannot inherit His kingdom because the inheritance is by right. Only a child of God has a right to the family inheritance (Rom. 8:17).
It isn’t the vices that disqualify you from the inheritance; it is the “Vice Grip”—when the sinful old nature has such a strong hold on you that you continue in the works of the flesh. So, disqualification occurs when you practice a vice (1 John 3:7-8). You’ll always get good at what you practice. It’s not a single failure, but the practice that characterizes you as unrighteous. It is one thing to make a mistake and another to practice it (Matt. 26:41; Ps. 37:23).
How can you protect your inheritance? It’s simple: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). Always practice godly virtues, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and not the vices of the old sinful nature.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:14-18 NKJV
There’s a legal principle in American jurisprudence that says, “No man is above the law.” This is not truth in the government of God. Believers are expected to live above the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:1-2).
There are two competing forces inside of the believer: the Holy Spirit and the old sinful nature. These two forces are adversaries, contrary and opposite to the other. The Holy Spirit yields fruit, i.e., attributes, character, and the nature of God; and, the old sinful nature yields works of the flesh, evil desires, and ungodly deeds. The old sinful nature wants to keep you under the power of the law, “. . . and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56). To live above the law; you must be led by the Spirit (text).
Both Jesus and Apostle Paul taught that love should be the motivating factor in your dealings with God, yourself and others (Matt. 22:37-40; Gal.5:14). If love isn’t your motivating factor, then you will “bite and devour one another” and destroy the other (text). Without love, you become critical and judgmental of others (Matt. 7:1; Rom. 14:4); you look for another’s faults and shortcomings; and, talk about them behind their backs (See 1 Cor. 13:4-7). It is the power of the law that ignites and manifests these impulses and “motions” of the flesh which cause our members to sin (Rom. 7:5).
“For all of the law is fulfilled in one word”—love! (Gal. 5:14). The fruit of the Spirit is love . . .” (Gal. 5:22). So what does it mean to live above the law? To live above the law is to be led by the Spirit (text)—with a desire to hear God’s Word and a readiness to obey (Jas. 1:22), and being led with a sensitivity to discern between your feelings and Spirit’s actual leading. If the Word of God is in your heart and mind, it will be behind your actions, and the power of God will lift you above your selfish desires.
You are no longer obligated to be under the power of the law. Your new husband is Jesus Christ. Since you died with Christ on the Cross, your “first husband”, i.e., the law, has no power over you. You are no longer married to Moses. Moses is dead! You are now married to the Lord Jesus whose Spirit lifts you above the law and the flesh (Rom. 7:4-6). Selah!
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise. Proverbs 11:30 NKJV
Christians often emphasize the importance of winning souls, and at the same time, deemphasize the importance of showing that their soul has been won—evidencing the fruits of righteousness.
The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom. The wisdom of Proverbs teaches that the fruit of the righteous precedes the fruit of soul-winning. The Apostle Paul referred to the fruit of the Spirit also as the fruit of righteousness (Phil. 1:11). Effective soul-winning begins with the fruit of righteous first being a tree of life.
For example, many kindergarten and grade school teachers incorporate “show and tell” in their curriculums to help their students develop and demonstrate listening and speaking skills for effective communication to help guide a classmate in understanding some important idea, people, places, and things. Winning souls to Christ is like “show and tell.” You show before you tell!
“The fruit of righteous is a tree of life” (Text). A “tree of life” evidences health and life with its green leaves and blooming fruit (Ps. 1:3; Isa. 61:3). You can always know a tree by the fruit it bears (Matt. 7:20). So, it is true spiritually; you are known by your fruit and your fruit is clearly seen by all who observe your tree (life). Spiritually, a tree of life attracts—not repel—people to its fruit and its shade (unconditional acceptance) by consistently exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit because they are the attributes, the character, and nature of Christ (John 15:5; Matt. 4:19). But this fruit in your life must first show before you tell others about Jesus Christ.
.Again, the fruit of righteousness is the fruit of the Spirit, as outlined in Galatians 5:22, 23; and, the fruit of the Spirit can be summed up in one word: love. This is the new commandment that Jesus gave to believers (John 13:34, 35). When it comes to winning souls, where’s the love? Show God’s love to the lost before you tell them about the salvation plan that God offers, because the fruit of the Spirit is love. Remember the “purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). Show it before you tell it!
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34, 35 NKJV
Believers are called not only to love each other as yourself, but are also called to go one step further: to love each other as Christ loved you. To do this, you must walk in the Spirit, and you can’t walk in the Spirit without yielding the fruit of the Spirit. If fruit is the product of plant growth; then, spiritual fruit is a reflection of your personal growth and development in the Lord. According to the Apostle Paul, “the fruit of the Spirit is love . . .” (Gal.5:22, 23).
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament analogizes your life as a “tree” (Ps. 1:3; Matt. 7:20). Just as trees are consistent in the kind of fruit they produce, you need to consistently exhibit the fruit of the Spirit because they are the attributes, the character and nature of God in Christ in you, and God is love (1 John 4:7, 8).
Jesus taught that love is the greatest commandment, i.e., loving God and loving others as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). Love (Agapeo, Greek) far exceeds what the Law and the prophets ever taught or commanded. Why? God is love and love is the fruit of His Spirit which fulfills all the Law and the prophets (Matt. 22:40; Gal. 5:23). Furthermore, Paul reveled to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:5 that there are three useful qualities that help you cultivate and demonstrate the love of God: a pure heart, a clear conscience, and unfeigned faith. Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfilled the lusts of your flesh (Gal. 5:16); but rather, you will yield the fruit of the Spirit which is love manifested in eight other attributes as outlined in Galatians 5:22, 23.
God is glorified when you yield the fruits of love. The fruit of the Spirit defines your discipleship in Christ more than other external measures. If you keep the commandments to love God and others as yourself, you then abide in God’s love and His Spirit (John 15:8-12). The fruit of the Spirit is Love!
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law . . . If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-18, 25 NKJV
The lust of the flesh is nothing more than an intense desire to carry out a work of the flesh, as enumerated in Galatians 5:19-21; it is a natural, sensual impulse whereby you set your heart upon carrying out the desires of the flesh.
But please understand that there are two conflicting forces within believers: the Holy Spirit and the sinful nature of the flesh. To rise above the lust of the flesh and to avoid fulfilling its desires, you must walk in the Spirit. When the Spirit of God dwells in you and rule your heart, the sinful fleshy nature will be destroyed. To walk in the Spirit is to live by the Spirit, i.e., to be influenced and impacted in your conduct and decision-making by the Spirit of God.
In John 15: 4-8, Jesus uses a farming analogy of the “Vine and the branches” to teach that walking in the Spirit produces fruit if you abide in the Vine (Christ and His Word). To “abide” in Christ is to dwell in Him, to be present with Him, remain, and continue with Him daily, regardless of your respective circumstances or situation. Fruit is the product of plant growth. So, when you abide in Christ, the Spirit causes certain graces to grow in your life, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit. Like fruit in the natural, spiritual fruit can be under-developed, fully developed; unripe and ripe. But the more you abide in the Vine, the more you grow if you continue to be yielded to the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit influences the spiritual atmosphere, attitude, and altitude of your life, impacting your surroundings and environment; your emotional mental state and feelings; and your spiritual elevation and stature in God. The fruit of the Spirit is Love and eight other attributes, as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23), that you should embrace for your life. God is Love and God is a Spirit. So, if you live in the Spirit, you should also allow the Spirit to influence and impact your life by walking in the Spirit!
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13 NKJV
What does it mean to be led by the Spirit? At the least, to be led by the Spirit is to be influenced by the Spirit of truth to guide you in doing the will of God—it’s like tuning into the “Holy Ghost’s” channel; you just raise your “spiritual antenna”, dial in and be led. But how do you reconcile that some people are able to dial in and are led by the Spirit, and others seem to never find their way to obey the will of God. Is it because a lack of spiritual awareness? If so, how do you develop spiritual awareness? I can suggest four things to help one develop spiritual awareness:
First, meditate in the Word of God; just as God instructed Joshua when he succeeded Moses as the leader of the congregation of Israel and the commander of its army (Joshua 1:8). The Hebrew word translated “meditate” (hagah) also means to mutter, ponder, and speak to yourself. God the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit are One (John 17:21-22). Meditation in the Word proffers awareness of the Spirit, and prosperity and success.
Second, spiritual awareness necessitates that one practice being a doer of the Word of God (Jas. 1:22-25). Without being a doer of the Word, the “Holy Ghost” channel is always distorted and unclear. You want a clear channel! Don’t make the mistake of thinking that talking about the Word and rejoicing about the Word is being a doer of the Word—not so! In fact, practicing the Word begins with walking in love (John 13:34). God is love (1 John 4:16). It is being about it, not just talking about it.
Third, give the Word of God first place in your life. Make the Word your first priority and final authority. Borrow from the wisdom of the writer of the Book of Proverbs, where he admonished you to “give attention to [God’s] words; incline your ear to [His] sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh” (Prov. 4:20-22). If you want to develop spiritual awareness and sensitivity, always ask yourself in every situation: “What does the Word say about this”? (See an example in 2 Chron. 16:12-13 as to what may happen when you don’t). And,
Fourth, instantly obey the Inward Voice and the Voice of Spirit. Remember, that your human spirit is the conduit that the Holy Spirit uses to communicate, lead and guide you (Prov. 20:27). Don’t second guest God’s voice. After all, you are a new creature in a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). In your new spiritual nature, you are of God and have overcome every spirit and voice of the anti-Christ and the anti-God influences in the world (1 John 4:4). Don’t be afraid. Just obey God! Spiritual awareness is walking in the Spirit, not fulfilling the desires of your flesh (Gal. 5:16).