Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 15:29-58 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
What will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? 30 Why are we also in danger every hour? 31 I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 34 Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” 36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
In today’s text Paul says: Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. In Romans 8:17 Paul says we are: Heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. Does Paul contradict Himself? How can he say that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom and say also that we, who are flesh and blood, are heirs? The answer lies in what he says prior to saying we are heirs, in Romans 8. If by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. It is by walking with and living by the Spirit and not by the flesh that we receive our inheritance. In John 4:24 Jesus says: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” So too, must we who want to inherit the kingdom, we who want to walk in all the benefits, privileges and promises of the kingdom, do it by walking in the Spirit rather than the flesh.
In the text Paul speaks of our future inheritance saying: Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have the promise of a future inheritance, a future victory over the death of our flesh through eternal life in Christ. In that time we will shed these mortal, perishable bodies and be raised up as imperishable and immortal with Christ, by the victory of the cross. That is indeed a great hope and promise we have. It is a great comfort as we experience the death and mortality of loved ones, and as we face our own mortality. But, as it says in Romans 8, we are heirs. We are also to live now, in the victory Christ won on the cross and through His resurrection. In John 10:10, Jesus says: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” As heirs of the kingdom, we have been given all the benefits, privileges and promises of the kingdom. The abundant life Christ gives is something we are to live in and walk in now, daily. We cannot do it though; we cannot expect to have the abundance of the life Christ gives, if we walk in the things of the flesh. Paul says: If by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
In Galatians 5:16-25 Paul says: 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. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 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. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus Himself says: “Not everyone who says to Me,‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he whodoes the will of My Father in heaven.Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have wenot prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’Andthen I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you;depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” How can we think that we can walk in the fullness of our inheritance as joint heirs with Christ, if in truth He does not even know us, because of the things we choose to do and practice?
Paul says: I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. Jesus says: "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily.” (Luke 9:23) Of course we cannot die every day, but rather day by day, even minute by minute we must choose to put the lusts and desires; the self fulfillment of the flesh to death so that we can walk by the Spirit in the fullness and abundance of the life Christ has given us. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; for the victory we have in You. Thank You for the promise of victory over death through the power of the resurrection that we share in Christ. Thank You for the victory of sin and the power we have to live and walk in the fullness and abundance of Jesus victory over sin. Because You died for sin once for all, I can die daily from sin, to live in the fullness of the kingdom with all of Your benefits and promises. Amen.