Ephesians 5:5 – For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
This verse is in the midst of a lengthy passage describing and encouraging the preferred conduct of the people of God. Paul arrives at this statement that there will be people who do not have an inheritance within the kingdom, and he lists a host of unsavory qualities as examples.
Rather than focus on the obvious qualities of those who would not obtain this inheritance, I would rather highlight the quality of those who do achieve this inheritance.
Ephesians 4:32, 5:1-2 – And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.
Those who “imitate God” are the inheritors. We find the specific qualities of God that Paul is speaking of here in v. 32 of the previous chapter: being kind and compassionate, and forgiving one another. These are they who walk in self-sacrificing love like Yeshua did. These are those who demonstrate they are in the kingdom now, and who also have an eternal inheritance.
We know this inheritance is eternal from the words of Peter.
1 Peter 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.
An inheritance, in this context of the kingdom, is a place of dwelling, both as a way of life and a residence. We see this exemplified by both Noah (the inheritor of righteousness by faith; a way of life) and Abraham (the inheritor of a land; a residence).
Hebrews 11:7-8 – By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family. By faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and set out for a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, even though he did not know where he was going.
But even in the example of Abraham, we find he never did “officially” inherit “the land,” but was living only as a temporary resident in a land of promise.
Hebrews 11:9-10 – By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:39-40 – All these [Abraham and other Old Testament saints] were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.
The city of God, “something better” than a physical land, was his true inheritance, the eternal residence of those who, as Paul says, “imitate God” by walking in love.
Hebrews 12:22, 28 – Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, … Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe…
This kingdom cannot be shaken because it is outside of and beyond this created world. This is why it is eternal; the rule of God exists here and now as we walk in love, and also exists as a reality of residence beyond this created existence. This is the hope of every believer! To live in the domain of God’s rule now, and forever!
Anytime we are not walking in love, we are operating in principles outside of the kingdom. These types of activities are against our true nature, and are not aligned with our eternal inheritance. Instead, we should abide by the same demonstrative faith of the saints of old by living by the principles of this eternal inheritance, the city/kingdom where God rules forever.
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